27 Feb Young women in STEM: Is the engineering community doing enough?
More women are working in core Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines than ever before. And yet women still only make up 11% of the total workforce in engineering. This is a positive change from the 9% in 2015, but it’s not a match for the number of male engineers.
Compared with other countries in Europe, the United Kingdom has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals. At a time when the UK is facing a shortage of engineers, it’s important we as an industry improve the numbers of young women enter engineering – especially if we are to overcome that shortage.
So, what’s already happening to spark the interest in young women to pursue a career in engineering? And is it enough?
At the moment, it’s fair to say that there are plenty of independent activities by a number of separate groups, and they’re making a very important contribution. The Engineering Education Scheme Wales (EESW), for example, is a non-profit, educational charity that works to show young people how wonderful a career in engineering can be, as well as showing the industry just how talented the next generation of engineers are. Throughout the year, they organise a variety of activities designed to inspire and educate.
Events such as these provide students with the opportunity to gain practical experience. Activities will usually include working on real engineering problems, experiencing life as an engineering undergraduate and designing an innovative solution to an existing problem.
These groups and activities are incredibly important, and we do our best to be involved and help out. In fact, we’re supporting the EESW in an upcoming ‘Girls into STEM’ event on 12th April 2018, when we’ll be opening the doors to our facilities to introduce young women to precision engineering. Young women interested in engineering will have the chance to meet our team and gain an insight into what we do. They’ll also get valuable advice on how to begin their career. If there wasn’t enough, two of our employees, Shelagh Gill and Julie Howell, will be hosting a Q&A session to answer any questions our guests have.
While a single event such as this can’t be considered ‘the answer’ to the skills gap or significantly increase figures of women in STEM, it certainly can form part of a wider solution. It’s the responsibility of everyone in the engineering industry to tackle these problems, and we’re pleased to do our bit. We hope our colleagues throughout engineering will follow our lead and commit the resources required to showing young people all the magnificent reasons to enter engineering.
If you or anyone you know is interested in pursuing a career in engineering, click here to learn more about our apprenticeship school.