The future of Women in Engineering

Focus Articles
13 April 2015 | Focus Articles | thomas thomas


Engineering is a thriving industry which employs more than 1.7 million people in the UK. However, figures show that women make up less than 10% of the workforce. As engineering uses science and technology to benefit society, surely the skills and perceptions of society should be a part of that. Therefore, to all women, ‘your country needs you.’

On the 23rd June, the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), will focus on the fantastic opportunities that exist for women in this field, on what is known as National Women in Engineering Day. It is a celebration of the excellent work that women do in this field. With a continued skills shortage and a predicted demand for future jobs, there has never been a greater opportunity to encourage women to get involved in such a diverse and rewarding career.

By 2022, the UK will need to find at least 1.82 million new engineering, science and technology professionals. Breaking through the barriers of misconception and stereotyping is essential to illustrating the diversity that an engineering career can offer. It is an industry that revolves around finding solutions to problems, using both practical and technical skills. It involves maths, science, research, design, maintenance and production. Engineers are the driving force behind technological advances and ultimately they will shape our future societies. So, what do you think of when you hear the word, engineering?

It is a fact that many girls at school conjure up dirt, grease, engines and spanners. In reality, the majority of roles have nothing to do with this. So many misconceptions and stereotypes exist and it is time to dispel the myths. Women work across all fields, including nuclear, defence, marine and environmental. There are research roles within medicine and making advances here ultimately improves health and the quality of life which is undoubtedly something to be proud of.

Production Engineer Charlotte Tingley loves the challenges her role poses. She has worked on the manufacturing of the Euro-fighter Typhoon helmets, looking at ways of making the process more straightforward. During her career to date she has won the WES prize and the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2012.

Biomedical Engineer Dr Sylvia Schievano was awarded the George Macfarlane Award in 2009 for her engineering innovations in the development of pulmonary valves. Gemma Whatling is a Research Engineer at Cardiff University. She works in the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre, investigating how movement and forces in joints are affected by osteoarthritis. As you can see, engineering is far more than a greasy job with tools.

It is a rich tapestry of problem solving, creativity and beauty. This is a world for people who wish to make a difference, who are curious and innovative. This is a world that welcomes women and which has a number of women already who are instrumental in shaping our society. Women, along with their male counterparts are as successful and capable of contributing worthily and the truth is that the industry needs them.

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