We need female Engineers, and we need them now

More women in Engineering would be beneficial for the industry, innovation, and for the world. It has been said that the UK could be world leaders for Engineering, but we don’t have enough people in the workforce.

According to the 2017 WES report, only 11% of the UK’s Engineering workforce is female. Another study showed that 15% of Engineering Undergraduates are women.

Our Engineering team see the divide between the male and female job applicants they receive for Engineering based roles.

Female Engineers have pioneered some of the most life-changing consumer products in history.

In 2010, Emily Cummins invented the world’s first self-sustaining fridge. Emily was motivated to create a product for the developing world; countries that don’t have access to electricity. She developed a fridge that ran on dirty water, but it was still hygienic and was easy to create with scrap metal. Giving the developing world a safe and cheap way to store food and water. Emily then went onto create the Water Carrier, a device that helps carry water for long journeys.

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Sheffield-based Ruth Amos designed the StairSteady, an aid to help people with limited mobility to use their stairs confidently and safely. Ruth and the product have gone onto win National awards such as ‘Young Engineer for Great Britain’ and ‘Best Established Product’ by the British Healthcare Trade Association in 2013.

Despite this, Engineering has always been a man’s world, so why is it becoming so important to recruit more women into the industry?

1.    The skills shortage

We all know there is a skill shortage for Engineering professions in the UK.

There is a concern that the Engineering sector will not be able to meet the demands of the country. The National Women in Engineering group found that:

• 64% of employers say a shortage of engineers in the UK is a business threat;

• 33% are struggling to recruit quality staff in this sector;

• 20% find it challenging to recruit entry level employees.

This deficit can only increase if we act now.

It is estimated that by 2022, the UK will need close to two million new Engineering experts to keep up with the increasing demand of the high-tech society.

2. Greater Innovation and Creativity

Creative thinking and adaptability are essential qualities for anyone working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing (STEM) industries. In the past, these sectors have attracted a male workforce which could skew the future of innovations.

Although we can’t deny that the progress made in these sectors has been extraordinary, when innovation is led by one subset of the population with similar experiences and knowledge, there is a risk that solutions presented are limited.

In any business, another set of eyes looking at a problem can give a different solution or see it from a different perspective. Increasing the number of women in the Engineering sector would provide businesses with a different viewpoint for problem-solving. This can benefit the business as the extra pair of eyes could offer a cost-effective solution.

3. Increased Profits

Equality should be a high priority objective for any business. But at the end of the day, turnover and profit are the main KPIs of almost every company.

A study by McKinsey, American management consultancy, found that enabling women to meet their full potential in the workplace could generate an extra $28 trillion to annual GDP by 2025.

On a national level, this would result in an extra £2bn for the UK’s economy each year. In a time of uncertainty about the UK economy post Brexit, this is the kind of uplift that will bring much needed confidence.

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4. inspire the next generation

By introducing more women into STEM careers now, it can inspire young girls to pursue a similar path.

Take it from a 15-year-old girl’s perspective; if she wanted to enter the Engineering sector she may feel discouraged and isolated as there are not many women in the industry. Making the industry equal will give young girls the female role models they need.

Why are there so few female Engineers?

The UK is failing to inspire women to start a career in Engineering. We see this in the low number of girls and women studying appropriate subjects at college and university.

According to the Department of Education, there is a worrying lack of awareness at secondary school level about how wide-ranging the opportunities there are in engineering.

If you were to search ‘Engineer’ in Google image search thousands of images of male Engineers would appear. The UK’s traditional representation of male Engineers creates a negative perception for young or aspiring female engineers.

A communication campaign has since been initiated by Engineering UK and associated sectors to improve this potentially disastrous direction.

Employers are starting to offer women in the Engineering sector the chance to enter the workplace without formal qualifications. Experts are being brought into schools to educate girls about the opportunities in Engineering and what they can achieve. It is hoped that this drive will be enough to initiate a positive shift for female Engineers in five years’ time.

What are we doing to help?

We are fully onboard with supporting the initiative of inspiring more women into STEM careers.

So far this year we have taken part in many events and activities to celebrate and inspire people into this sector.

We sponsored STEM’s Get up to Speed Business Breakfast. An estimated 2,500 young boys and girls attended the event. Aimed to inspire young people into STEM and educate them on the opportunities available.

Our Engineering team take part in the Speak out for Engineering award each year. This award gives young people the chance to showcase an innovative idea to a panel of judges. Every year one of the members of our senior Engineering team are part of the judging panel.

IMECHE

We are an equal opportunities recruiter, and we welcome applications from all suitably skilled or qualified candidates.We are currently recruiting for an extensive range Engineering jobs across a wide range of sectors. If you have been inspired to apply for a job or to discuss how Elevation can help you fill a traditionally hard to place vacancy, contact us today.

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