Jessie Reid, Admin & Marketing Coordinator, FPR Group
Engineering plays a crucial role in the UK’s economy, but faces one of the largest skills shortages. According to EEF, in 2017, only 10% of the engineering workforce are women, but only 5.2% were registered female engineers or technicians. However, this was a 4.8% increase from 2015, so the numbers are improving. This report summarises the results of a survey of current students and graduates from University of Portsmouth and Southampton (24 respondents in total). The survey’s aim was to explore attitudes towards Women in Engineering campaigns, as well as the proportions of female engineering students.
See full analysis of these results on our blog: http://bit.ly/FPRWIEStudents
Q1: Are you male or female?
Q2: What type of engineering do you study?
Q3: What portion of your class do you estimate is female?
Q4: Are you aware of any campaigns to increase the proportion of women in engineering courses?
If yes, which campaigns have you seen?
|Robogals, WES<, various ECS events, apparently it’s been a strong focus for the IET to increase numbers of female and minority engineers|
|Women in engineering, Insight|
|Wiset, Athena swan, this girl can|
|A lot of scholarships and money available in STEM is for women|
Q5: How much do you think has been done to encourage women to study engineering (0 being nothing, and 100 being everything we can)?
Q6: Do you have any thoughts on what can be done to encourage women into engineering? (optional)
|Accept more girls with lower results and mentor them|
|The current campaigns seem to be doing a lot of good things – the gender split in engineering isn’t going to change overnight|
|Start young. At every level of education, there is a drop in the percentage of women studying STEM subjects.|
|Tell them to stay at home|
|Site visits Career fairs Talks from female engineers. The above done early senior school and onwards|
|Showing that there is more to engineering than getting muddy, living away from home and long hours.|
|I believe our education system gives women equal opportunity to study engineering. The fact that fewer do may just represent a lower interest compared to things like healthcare where theres a lower percentage of males.|
|I think a bigger problem now is we spend 18 years telling girls that women are the future, be engineers, and then as soon as they're in technical roles the response is 'lol what, you're an engineer? haha okay uh do you want to do the powerpoint?'|
|More practical/hands on subjects in schools so women feel more confident going into the field as girls don’t tend to get as much hands-on experience at home compared with boys.|
|Make engineering modules compulsary for any STEM students, in their first year potentially - this will allow, for example, chemistry students (where the female 'ratio' is a lot higher) to engage and learn about engineering early in their uni life, and potentially want to develop further down that route with more engineering optional modules throughout their degree! Same with maths, all sciences, even some social science courses maybe, a practical engineering based crossover module that opens their eyes to it|
|In my personal opinion the root of the problem is confidence and social disuasion from women engaging in STEM and particularly male dominated fields like engineering and computer science. The intervention needs to be made in high school and sixth form when women frequently self select out of maths, physics, etc. It's my belief that exposure to women and role models at that key stage, who are in stem, kinda badass, but also not giving off that old stereotype of having 'sacrificed being a woman' to participate in the field, is key to making women feel like engineering is a viable option they are welcome to pursue, should their curiousity take them there. Note that there are such women, particularly amongst the PhD students where there seems to be a higher representation of women, in the University who are exactly that, badass and confident, who would make perfect role models and examples for young women in school as they are deciding on their degrees.|
|Encourage children first - start in primary schools|
|Encourage it from a much younger age, show them what's available.|
|STEM activities in schools are a good thing so keep going with them. Don't pretend there are more females than true. I think it'll improve naturally over time but I've been in a LOT of staged photographs because they want to show more girls.|
|Correcting the perception of what engineering is (fixable) and more female role models (give it time). In the workplace engineering is a multi-faceted role incorporating large elements of project management, procurement, organisation and team coordination (soft engineering) against a back drop off applied science (hard engineering). However, typical engineering degrees don't reflect this and focus on grounding graduates in hard engineering, appealling to a system focused mind. This makes engineering degrees a horrible gauntlet to run for anyone who would be great at the soft engineering but who's heart doesn't lie with advanced calculus. In conclusion: 1) women make fantastic engineers; 2) engineering degrees aren't a true reflection of the skills needed for workplace engineering; 3) what they do offer appeals to men; 4) result, engineering offices full of hairy assed guys who can't do anything but maths. Fix: make engineering degrees vocational to engineering jobs and move away from treating it holey as applied science. P.S. positive descrimination is definitively not the answer, anacdotally I have worked in places with a positive descrimination policy resulting in the men becoming even more protectionist to "compensate".|
|Introduce engineering as a general topic earlier in the curriculum.|
|Think more people should go into engineering as a whole, regardless of gender. I believe women don’t go into engineering as much as men possibly due to the way in which the information is initially presented. To get more women into engineering, it needs to be presented as a viable and appropriate field for women early in the education process|
|Presentations and work shops on interesting engineering topics. In schools early on showing how maths/physics can be used to do cool things like build miny rockets|
|Improve girls participation in stem a levels; 1 girl out of 21 in my further maths class, none in physics|
|Theres loads available..|
|At the moment, they are only saying that more women are needed and showing success stories of women. I think there should be some grants specifically for women who get into and excel in engineering courses|
|Show evidence of the proportion of women in engineering (especially at a graduate level). There's an idea that it's male dominated which is increasingly becoming untrue, and I think this idea puts people off|
|Target them when young, a lot of programs now are just positive discrimination for women already in tech. It leads to an us vs them mentality.|
We hope our Women in Engineering Week 2018 can be a platform to encourage conversation, invite ideas and tackle this issue openly, so feel free to comment your ideas and share!