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Industry observes International Women's Day

BSRIA and University of Derby highlight female engineer shortage

Posted by Stephanie Broad | March 08, 2016 | Events

BSRIA is celebrating International Women’s Day on 8th March. The remit of the day is for women to continue to contribute to social, economic, cultural and political achievement – on a worldwide scale. The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the ‘already glacial pace of progress’ meant the gender gap wouldn't close entirely until 2133. 

Julia Evans, Chief Executive of BSRIA, asks: are we doing enough to promote the excellence of female engineers – both into engineering and into the ‘boardroom’?

The organisation has called for both men and women to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias.

Julia said: “Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. BSRIA is working with the local schools and colleges to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects – not only at an early age – but to women – who have historically not always chosen this academic avenue. 

“The current statistics for women in the construction workplace is about 12% compared to 47% in other industries. This differentiation is clearly unacceptable. Women make up 52% of Britain’s population, so increasing the percentage of the female workforce in the industry must happen.

“They have struggled to get an equal footing in construction, but the representation of women in our industry has waxed and waned in recent history, demonstrating that, government leadership is crucial in this important debate.

Positive discrimination for women to join the board of companies in industry is called for. And there are plenty of different roles for women working in the built environment these days – with changing project teams and additional opportunities.”

Civil engineering at the University of Derby

At the University of Derby, top female engineers from across the East Midlands will share their career journeys and ambitions with school and college girls at an event hosted by the university.

The ‘Women in Engineering’ event, which is supported by Rolls-Royce and Bombardier, will be held today at the University’s Kedleston Road site.

Aimed at girls in schools and colleges across the region, the event will raise the profile of engineering through a series of short, snappy ‘best bit’ presentations, which will showcase a variety of career journeys and highlights to date by women at the top of their fields.

Speakers include Professor Angela Dean, Head of the Department of Engineering at University of Derby, Paula Gwinnett, Director of Engineering at The JCB Academy and Linda Wain, East Midlands Trains.

Attendees will also hear a Q&A panel discussion where the speakers will be joined by Shobha Tynan, Acting Principal at Derby Manufacturing University Technical College (UTC).

They will also have the opportunity to network and sign up for ‘hands on’ sessions with Bombardier, Rolls Royce, Derby UTC and Derby College.

Speaking of the event, Paula Gwinnett said: “After a successful career in engineering and business, spanning the last 30 years, I’d like to think that I know what it takes to succeed. I also know that there are many young women who have just the right qualities to excel in this amazing profession but for whom a career in engineering still seems an exception to convention.

“But that’s just the point - a career in engineering is exceptional and no two careers are the same. The Women in Engineering event gives those of us who have enjoyed the huge rewards and fulfilment that an engineering career can provide the chance to share our experiences and to smash a few myths and perceptions; to ask and answer the question ‘why be an engineer?’ or, better still, ‘why not?’”

Angela Dean added: “Manufacturing and engineering are very important to Derby in maintaining our economic prosperity and so, encouraging women as well as men to enter the profession with the help of an event like this, is essential for the city.”

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