Speaking ahead of International Women in Engineering Day (INWED20) on 23 June, female engineers say there is too much emphasis put on the barriers to women in engineering professions and not enough celebration of their successes
More positive messages about the success of women in engineering would encourage greater numbers of recruits, a group of female engineers told an industry meeting.
In a recent webinar Claire Curran, managing director of Linaker FM and board member of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), said: “This industry is amazing and delivers some brilliant projects – let’s focus on the exciting stuff.
“We need more female role models, but it is hard to get women to put themselves forward because they don’t want to be seen as pushy or aggressive. Women need to feel able to be themselves and not try to fit in with the ‘blokey’ culture.”
The webinar also heard that the industry was in danger of missing out on crucial funding for new recruits. More than a third of the money raised by the Apprenticeship Levy has not been spent and could be swallowed up by the Treasury in December.
Women in Engineering Society (WES)
Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO of the Women in Engineering Society (WES), said: “Women like to work where they can make a difference, so we need to promote the amazing opportunities in engineering to ‘shape the world’ i.e. through sustainability; the climate emergency and addressing social inequalities.
“The figures are still far too low, but at least the non-engineering sectors seem to be moving in the right direction.”
Just over 12% of all UK engineers are women, according to Donnelly. However, that figure falls to 9.7% (around 1 in 10) of those employed in ‘traditional’ engineering. 18.5% of engineers working for non-engineering organisations are women (around 1 in 5) – hence the overall figure of 12%.
Reanna Taylor, senior project engineer at NG Bailey and first chair of the BESA Future Leaders’ group, said: “We are also good at finding new solutions to old problems and bringing people together.
“We do tend to focus on the ‘barriers’ created by gender when, in fact, we should be concentrating on the difficulties all engineers have in common – such as the technical challenges we face.”