Jessie Reid, Admin & Marketing Coordinator, FPR Group
Engineering: Is it a man’s world?
Throughout our Women in Engineering Week 2018, FPR Group has been delving into the issue of the gender imbalance in engineering. We’ve spoken to recruiters, students, managers and engineers themselves to raise awareness of the issue that we’re passionate about. There are several campaigns and organisations attempting to encourage greater diversity within the engineering industry. Today we conclude with an important question: is it working?
What is the goal?
There is a huge skills shortage in the engineering industry. Engineering UK’s 2018 report states that 124,000 engineers and technicians with core engineering skills are required every year, and there is a 59,000 annual shortfall to fill core engineering roles. One way to address this is to reach a larger pool of skilled engineers, and that means appealing more to women. Women make up 47% of the UK’s workforce, but only 12% of the engineering workforce.
Everyone brings a different thing to the table, by not including women there is a whole pool of opinions and potential solutions to issues that aren’t being heard.By Samantha, Engineering Manager at global manufacturing company
FPR Group began our campaign to raise awareness of the imbalance of the engineering skills shortage and noticeably larger numbers of men in the industry. However, we didn’t realise quite how large the problem is, and how many people across the world feel so passionate about balancing the scales. The response we’ve had to this campaign demonstrates a widespread determination to proactively tackle this issue, which is already underway.
What’s really important to me is that it’s not seen to be an issue, that we’re just people. I don’t want to be seen as a woman in engineering, but simply, “She’s an engineer”. It should be normal, that’s the aim.By Christabel, Acoustic Engineer at AECOM
What is the solution?
This issue isn’t being ignored. As we mentioned on Day 1, there are several interventions already in place to improve the proportion of women in engineering.
2018 is the government’s official Year of Engineering, which is a campaign that focuses on engaging children at school age. Their mission is to inspire a new generation of engineers through school-age interventions, e.g. lesson plans, videos and STEM events. Through our own research, we found that over 40% of current engineering students believe females could be encouraged to consider STEM and engineering pathways in early education, but does this need to be more hands-on?
Start young. At every level of education, there is a drop in the percentage of women studying STEM subjects.By Respondent, FPRWIE18 Student Survey
More and more companies are now introducing STEM and engineering programmes to children in schools, of any gender or background. Siemens, Engineering Education Scheme, STEM, Women into Science and Engineering (WISE), Tomorrow’s Engineers, and Year of Engineering are just a few examples of larger organisations engaging with younger people.
Other issues raised in our research included an ongoing perception of a male-dominated workplace, which may be putting women off working in engineering. Samantha, the Engineering Manager at a leading manufacturing company, understood that engineering was male-dominated, but said that this didn’t discourage her. “I think people are more accepting and used to working with female engineers now.”
I think that attitudes in the workforce have vastly improved, meaning that it is much less intimidating for women working in these areas than it used to be. There are some great positive female role models now and even Doctor Who is helping pave the way for future generations.By Elliot, HR Director at leading aerospace company
From our interview with Tracy de Pass, Technical and Engineering Manager at FPR Group, we learned that the recruitment industry has seen a positive increase of women being placed in engineering roles, and with female recruiters themselves. “Now, all of our clients get excited if I send over a female engineer’s CV. They’re excited to see women in engineering because obviously in any team, you want a mix of people, no matter the industry.”
I think we have turned the corner in regards to how women are viewed in the engineering environment, now it’s a case of ensuring they are as equally interested in this field.By Jacqueline, Applications Engineer at Porvair Group
Despite the low numbers of women in core engineering roles, progress is being made, with more than double the number of women working as professional engineers in 2018, compared to 2013 (STEM). However, there is still plenty to be done to continue this upward trajectory. Whether we need to empower more young men and women to consider engineering as an achievable career choice, or adapt the way we approach diversity in the workplace as a whole, it won’t change overnight. We look forward to following up on our Women in Engineering Week, and following other campaigns that are making such an impact within the industry.
There is a 59,000 annual shortfall to fill core engineering roles, which will continue to rise year on year. FPR Group want to impassion both young men and women to begin a career in engineering. We are happy to support the engineers of the future, and as part of that, we will be attending University of Southampton’s annual Technology & Engineering Careers Fair on 14th February 2019.
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!