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Engineering in the UK is currently being threatened by a skills shortage that is putting of 64% of engineering employers at risk. EngineeringUK reported that engineering contributed around 26% of the UK’s GDP. The sector plays a critical role in the economy, as well as the quality of life for individuals and businesses alike. There is however a shortfall of around 20,000 annually and this has been made potentially worse by Brexit. This could lead to a reduction in terms of international engineers and make the shortage worse. There is one clear area where one group could be the solution to the engineering shortage and also cause improvement in the sector itself in terms of diversity and effectiveness.
The UK needs more female engineers
Women could be the answer. At present, only 9% of engineers are female. This is the lowest in Europe. This is unfortunately resulting in far fewer engineers than the UK needs. This is also indicative of the sector being unappealing to females in general. This starts where the early parts of a career paths beginnings are formed. Engineering and other sciences are seen as a job for males due to stereotypes about males being more technical. Only 20% of A Level physics students are female, this has unfortunately not changed for 25 years. The amount of women engineers is improving very slowly, but it is not enough to meet the business demands of the UK.
What are the incentives or benefits to an engineering career?
When women do find their position in engineering, research has indicated positive trends towards happiness In a survey of 300 female engineers, 84% actually reported being happy or extremely happy in their engineering career. Engineering is also one of the best career paths in terms of job security and reliably securing a high wage. Diversity in the workplace has benefits in achieving a variety of viewpoints, better relationships with customers or partners and, according to a recent McKinsey diversity study a likely chance of getting a higher financial return than others in the same industry. A fresh perspective and a different way of thinking can add tremendous value, especially in a field where problem solving as a team is paramount. Innovation is also key to the field and is greatly supported by a diverse team.
Engineering to help the world
Stereotypically, there have been some reports or ideas that the majority of women generally prefer to do jobs that help people, whereas most males prefer to fix problems. Even if this is true, engineering jobs actually bring both desires together – the problems that are fixed lead to a quality of life improvement for people all over the world. Often engineering is thought of as purely a problem solving sector and this could be contributing to the difference between the genders. Every field requires problem solving with helping others as the end result. This is at a grand scale in terms of helping the economy as well as transport networks, housing, waste management and other infrastructure. This is why it’s so important to spread the word.
For these reasons (and more), we decided to do what we could to spread the word, and try to explain the perks to being a female engineer and why it’s so important for the sector itself to encourage more of them. We’ve created an infographic that explains these facts and more to raise as much awareness as possible. If you wish to support the cause, please feel free to share our infographic and engage with us on Twitter and Facebook. We’ll be actively monitoring our account and engaging with others on the day.
International Women’s Day 2017
We’re also doing this in direct support of International Women’s Day 2017, which will take place on June 23rd. If you’re curious about the event or how you can get more involved, please visit the site of the official event as well as the Women’s Engineering Society. If you wish to get involved on social media, please use the relevant hash tags: #INWED17 #MenAsAllies