Today is International Women in Engineering Day, an annual celebration of the amazing work done by thousands of women in engineering roles across the globe. From the inventor of the Coston Flare to the first Briton in space, women in engineering have been inventing, innovating and inspiring for decades and more.
It may come as a surprise therefore, that less than 10% of the engineering workforce are women, and that the UK are way behind the rest of Europe when it comes to females in these roles. As a comparison, Bulgaria and Latvia boast statistics of over 3 times that percentage.
What’s more, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of this gender disparity improving, with the National Centre for Universities and Business claiming that the proportion of young women studying engineering and physics has remained virtually static since 2012 and remains vastly behind target.
The Royal Academy of Engineering reports that 64% of UK engineering employers claim a shortfall of engineers is a threat to their business. And without enough skilled engineers, engineering jobs will ultimately end up going abroad, having a hugely negative effect on employment rates and the wider economy.
The North East would adversely feel those effect on a huge scale. With its famous engineering history and vibrant presence, much attributed to the supply chains of the likes of Nissan and Hitachi, our region is one that should be addressing the engineering skills gap as a matter of urgency.
Should more women progress towards a career in engineering, the chances of narrowing the skills gap and therefore safeguarding UK engineering jobs would be improved dramatically. Not only that, but the businesses employing females themselves would benefit, with Forbes reporting that 85% corporate diversity and talent leaders agreed that “a diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation”.
There’s something in it for us ladies too. In a survey of 300 female engineers, The Royal Academy of Engineering found that 84% were either happy or extremely happy with their career choice and that engineering students are second only to medics in securing full-time jobs and earning good salaries.
So, what are you waiting for? There’s so many opportunities and great career progression. Take a look at The Institute of Engineering and Technology for more info. For those in a position to inspire young people, you can do your bit too. Please check out STEM Learning to discover what they’re doing to help young people follow in the footsteps of some of the greats by recognising the endless opportunities of a career in engineering.
“Scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been” – Theodore Von Karman