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Engineers say young women unaware of career opportunities

Government urged to encourage young women into engineering as part of Women in Engineering Day

Posted by Stephanie Broad | June 20, 2016 | Events

With ‘National Women in Engineering Day’ just around the corner on 23 June, the UK’s leading independent job site, CV-Library, has announced that an overwhelming 71.7% of female engineers don’t believe young women are being made aware of the abundant career opportunities available in the sector, which is significantly damaging the pipeline of female talent. 

The job site asked over 500 female engineers to share their views on opportunities in the sector for women and discovered that over half (56.5%) felt that engineering was still viewed as a ‘male’ profession. Furthermore, 92.5% stated that more women would want to work in the sector if they were taught about it from an early age. 

The female engineers surveyed believe the following actions should be taken to eliminate gender inequality: 

  • Promotion within the education system: Almost two thirds (60.4%) believe engineering-based subjects should be offered in schools
  • Raising awareness of opportunities: More profile-raising and education on the study and application of engineering would encourage women to enter the industry, according to 41.9% of female engineers
  • Profiling role models in the sector: Celebrating success stories could contribute positively, as 44.4% believe that there’s a lack of understanding amongst females around engineering and what it entails
  • Actively promoting diversity: Nearly half (45.4%) believe sector organisations working together to promote gender diversity and equality would raise the profile of women in engineering 

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, comments: “There are great opportunities in the sector for women, but we regularly notice a severe lack of female candidates applying to engineering roles. For example, in the last six months we had over 105,000 engineering jobs advertised on the site, which received over 2.1 million applications. However, only 9.2% (202,666) of those came from female applicants.” 

Narina Sekhon, project coordinator at the Women’s Engineering Society, adds: “The findings from CV-Library uncover the realities of what it’s like for many women to work in the sector. But, despite the fact that engineering is still a male-dominated industry, there are plenty of fantastic opportunities for women to embrace. We launched National Women in Engineering Day to raise the profile of females in engineering and focus on the amazing career opportunities available in this exciting sector. By working with a range of organisations and education bodies, we are taking steps to eliminate gender barriers once and for all.” 

Construction association BSRIA is celebrating National Women in Engineering Day in an attempt to promote the subject to students in schools and universities and encourage more women into engineering. 

Engineering continues to be a male-dominated profession so the third NWED is a great time to address the problem. Currently, less than 10% of the engineering sector’s workforce is female and yet 64% of UK engineering companies report that a shortage of engineers is threatening their business.

Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said: “Employers are realising that ‘female friendly’ policies, such as flexible working, go a long way to help attract women. But we also need to change young women’s (and their parents’) mind-sets to realise that engineering offers a wide range of exciting opportunities and career development. Engineers and technicians touch every part of life. 

“By encouraging girls into engineering careers we will not only be increasing diversity and inclusion – a business imperative – but enabling us to fill the substantial future job opportunities that have been predicted in this sector. 

“BSRIA is very supportive of women going into engineering and proud to be employing many female engineers itself who are flourishing.

“And history has shown that those who pursue science arguably make the biggest impact to the world; incredible minds provide us with incredible ideas we once might have thought of as unbelievable but are now ingrained in our society. Engineers help make the future a reality.”

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