Historically, engineering is dominated by men, and has been considered a ‘male’ career. We’re now seeing slow growth in the number of women who are joining the sector. Despite this, the numbers of women in engineering are still extremely low. The CEO of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) reported that women make up only 12.3% of engineers in the UK. On the bright side, the sector is reporting high career satisfaction for women, with 95% of female engineers finding their job rewarding and are happy in their workplace, but the lack of women engaged in engineering remains a pressing and worrying issue.
Just looking at Britain alone, we are suffering from a shortage of engineers, a recent survey states that the UK requires 1.8 million new engineers/technicians by 2025 in order to keep up with demand.
Engineering has a reputation of being a masculine career, and it’s this stereotype that may put women off joining the industry. It is key to instill the curiosity needed for engineering into girls at a young age.
Sarah, a Mechanical Engineering student at Cardiff University told us that; “Engineering is everything. It’s the phones we go on, the cars we drive, it’s not just a bunch of men welding things together. It’s a key factor in the world moving forward, and we need to engage with all genders/races/walks of life not only because it’s important for us morally, but it’s essential to keep up with demand now. You simply can’t ignore the mindset and ideas that women can bring to the table, and it’s not even the fact we’re women, everyone thinks in different ways, and you can’t ignore half the population that have the potential to come up with world changing ideas”.
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 Facebook 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.”