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Why are women leaving engineering?

With the run up to International Women’s Day on March 8th, we’re looking at why so many women are opting to leave the engineering field.

Engineering is the most male-dominated field in STEM, and with a reported 12.37% of engineers being women.

Attempts have been made for years to improve curriculums to attract more women to the field, but even after university, women are leaving the field. According to NPR, around 40% of women who earn engineering degrees either quit or never enter the profession.

So why are so many women leaving? The issues are proving to stretch far beyond education. Many have suggested that the reasoning lies in the ‘old school’ culture of engineering, where the ideas of a ‘boys only’ workplace still existing in many organisations.

In a survey, women noted that one of their top reasons for leaving engineering was the lack of opportunities to develop and advance in comparison to their male counterparts. The need for culture change sits in the laps of companies, and they have a duty to their staff to provide a welcoming environment where everyone can thrive.

The effects of diversity in the workplace have been proved to have many benefits, from increased productivity and creativity, to positive environments.

The historical focus on maths, science and engineering courses chased away women; now we need to focus on how to include everyone. The newer industrial revolution that we are facing has rapidly changed the way we receive information, how we work, how we process, how we engineer etc. and because of this, we simply can’t afford to have any less than an entire population engaged and contributing.

As Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg said; “The word ‘female,’ when inserted in front of something, is always with a note of surprise. Female COO, female pilot, female surgeon — as if the gender implies surprise … One day there won’t be female leaders. There will just be leaders.”

As part of our development plan at UnitBirwelco, we will be offering diversity and inclusion training to all staff, with specific training for managers. Our female workforce numbers have grown 160% in 2 years, but we can always do more. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias , and we look forward to IWD2022 and everything we can learn from it.


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