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‘No progress made’ to Get More Women in Engineering July 14, 2011

Posted by The Raise Project in Women in Science.
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There has been no progress made in the mission to encourage more women to pursue careers in engineering,

the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has said.

A survey by the organisation found that the number of women in engineering jobs has stayed almost the same since 2008, at six per cent of the total engineering industry, compared to five per cent four years ago.

Meanwhile, there are actually fewer women in technology jobsnow than there were in 2008. Just three per cent of technicians in the UK are women, a drop from five per cent in 2008, figures show.

‘Outdated’ view of engineering

“It is really disappointing that no progress has been made to attract more women into engineering over the last four years,” remarked Paul Davies, head of policy at the IET.

He suggested that one of the reasons for this could be the “outdated” view many people have of the engineering and technology industry.

“It is not a problem that can be sorted out quickly or in isolation,” he added. “There are actions that the government can take in terms of support, the profession can do more to co-ordinate its activities and organisations can do more to provide an attractive working environment.”

Need for more female role models?

Indeed, the IET runs an award every year to celebrate the success of women working in the male-dominated industry. The IET’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards recognises the best female engineers under the age of 30 working in the UK. Last year, Arlene McConnell took the prize for her work in a systems engineer job at Selex Galileo.

Entries for this year’s nominations close on July 29th and other categories include the Women’s Engineering Society award and the Mary George Memorial Prize for Apprentices.

Such recognition could create role models for other young women to think about a career in engineering. Indeed, shadow minister for innovation and science Chi Onwurah, suggested that the lack of women in these industries is why science and technology “remains sidelined in our culture and in our economy”.

Greater pool of talent needed in engineering industry

“To compete globally we need more engineers and scientists and we need to be drawing them from a larger pool,” she said. “I call on the government to do more to encourage more women into science and engineering, and improve the availability of quality Stem [science, technology, engineering and maths] teaching.”

One of the ways to do this could be to offer financial incentives to university students on Stem courses. The Daily Telegraph reported that one in ten employers in the survey said engineering graduates should pay less tuition fees than other subjects, while employers could offer subsidised training.

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