Women in Engineering

“There is still a lack of gender parity in engineering in the UK, where only 12% of practising engineers are women. After 100 years, WES still has work to do.”

Today, we celebrate women in engineering. Whilst there is an appetite to bring more women into the engineering workforce, specifically into leadership roles, this number clearly indicates that there is still much work to be done by the industry. We at Holmes Noble work closely with businesses to fulfil their recruitment needs and drive diversity. However, this is not just an industry issue; it is also a societal one.

According to the Women’s Engineering Society, 46.4% of girls aged 11-14 say they would consider a career in engineering. However, by the time these girls reach 16, only 25.4% still express the same interest. What happens within these five short years to discourage these girls from pursuing a career in engineering? A simple explanation to this might be the gender biases perpetuated by our society which deem certain professions more suitable for men than women, and vice versa.

So, how can we change this? Perhaps by challenging these misconceptions early on by encouraging and empowering girls to study STEM subjects in school. According to WES, girls who have received STEM outreach are more than three times as likely to consider a career in engineering than those who haven’t. While such outreach could massively contribute to closing the skills gap in the UK’s industrial sector, biases surrounding girls and STEM follows them into the workplace.

In that sense, the workplace is a microcosm of society, with women constantly fighting to prove their ability not just as competent engineers, but as leaders, too. Therefore, engineering companies will need to transform their cultures to allow women the space to thrive and grow in their professions, rather than being disillusioned by workplace politics and outdated gender biases.

What do you think some of the challenges facing women in engineering are today?