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HOW CHANGING ATTITUDES ARE CLOSING THE GENDER GAP IN ENGINEERING

Posted by ALPHA88 CHARITY | Jan 13, 2019

Engineering is dominated by men, but the women successfully breaking into the sector report good things. Barriers to entry for women are numerable, but career satisfaction is high; more than 80% of female engineers are either happy or extremely happy with their career choice, and 98% find their job rewarding, according to a 2013 survey by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Yet, despite good prospects – engineering students are second only to medics in securing full-time jobs and earning good salaries – the number of women working in the sector remains woefully low.

“Women make up just 12.3% of all engineers in the UK, and only one in five of jobs are held by women in the wider engineering sector as a whole,” says Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), a charity and professional network that celebrates its centenary this year.

Attracting more female talent to the UK engineering sector – and retaining those people – is vital for economic growth and financial stability. Britain suffers from an acute shortage of engineers – 1.8 million new engineers and technicians are needed by 2025 – as well as a “leaky pipeline”, meaning women often fail to continue to progress their engineering careers.

Award-winning chartered electrical engineer Kerrine Bryan believes addressing the sector’s diversity problem is key to closing the skills gap. To help tackle the issue at the roots, she began publishing career-themed children’s books, including My Mummy Is An Engineer.

“We’re losing potential engineers at every stage of life, and it starts from a young age because bias and misconceptions in media and toys often implant ideas into children’s minds that engineering is for men and involves getting your hands dirty and fixing things, which doesn’t appeal to girls if they’re brought up to believe they should be quiet, neat and tidy,” she says.

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