Why does the UK have fewer female engineers?

By 2018-02-05 Blog No Comments
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This year marks 100 years since women gained the right to vote at a time when it was seen as a man’s job to go to work – engineering in factories, warehouses and mechanics. We believe it’s only right that we continue to celebrate this and show our support for empowering women in the UK.

Today we might think much has changed but according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), women only make up 9% of Britain’s engineering workforce, despite accounting for 20% of all engineering graduates.

As an organisation that supports the engineering industry, we have found there has been no apparent increase in the number of female engineers despite the massive efforts over the years.

The UK has fewer female engineers than anywhere else in Europe, now with a skills shortage looming, surely it’s time to get more women into the sector.

Nearly 5.7 million employees work in engineering enterprises in the UK, representing just over 19% of total UK employment. As a proportion of total employment, this has remained relatively consistent for the last three years. The engineering workforce is getting older, but not significantly faster than in the UK economy overall. While women make up 46% of the UK workforce as a whole, engineering continues to be male-dominated: women make up only 1 in 8 of those engineering occupations and less than 1 in 10 of those in an engineering role within an engineering company.

In an age when we can be proud of gender equality, engineering continues to stand out as one of few remaining male-dominated industries. But if the sector is to achieve the growth potential that is predicted, a concerted effort is needed to attract more women into the profession.

Over the years we’ve seen young women excelling in this sector even exceeding their male classmates in maths and science exams – both fundamental technical skills for an engineer. The combination of skills and the personal considerations now required to prosper in engineering are constantly changing. Engineering provides an interesting and diverse career for intelligent individuals – male or female.

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The industry is beginning to change and starting to tackle the challenge to boost its female appeal. More organisations are starting to run apprenticeship and training schemes to target women. There are support networks that bring together female engineers who are already working in the profession so they can share their experiences. Things are improving, but numbers seem to be drastically falling – it’s important for the industry to ensure all females would make a significant contribution to the engineering future.

Priyanka Dhopade is one of few women that’s shared her success story and encouraged other females to take a role into the growing industry. Priyanka was named as one of the top 50 Women in Engineering under 35 in 2017, as chosen by the Women’s Engineering Society. You can read her story by clicking here as she expresses her views on why the UK needs to produce thousands more engineers.

Let’s continue to show our support this year and inspire other women to take up a role in the profession. Will you join us in celebrating International Women in Engineering Day which takes place on 23rd June? This campaign raises the profile of women, focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities and let’s females share their stories and opinions. Please get involved and celebrate INWED for the fifth year by using the following hashtags: #INWED18 #Raisingthebar