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Females Build Bridges Across Current Gender Divide in the UK

Category: Industry News, diversity, equality, Manufacturing and Engineering, women in engineering

Females Build Bridges Across Current Gender Divide in the UK

WOMEN make up only six per cent of UK engineers – but that hasn’t stopped these London engineers from joining a male-dominated workforce, building everything from the Shard to Crossrail.

Yesterday marked the second-ever National Women in Engineering Day, to highlight the lack of female engineers.

This is bad news for business, according to a report from Engineering UK, which identified that getting more women into science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) jobs would add £2bn to the UK economy.

“Given that the number of 18-year-olds overall is due to drop by around 10 per cent in 2022 and the number of engineering workers required in that period is set to increase, encouraging women into the Stem sector is vital to fulfilling business needs,” the report said.

The UK currently has the EU’s lowest proportion of female engineers, but this is slowly changing. Women accounted for 11.5 per cent of applicants for engineering jobs in 2014, making it one of the least appealing industries for women to get into. Each woman competes against an average of almost eight men for every job that becomes available. But in London, infrastructure developments are constant – and female engineers are a big part of making that happen.

We profile five of them....

BREAKING THE MOULD: THE WOMEN BUSTING STEREOTYPES

DANA SKELLEY TFL
Dana Skelley is director of asset management for surface transport at Transport for London (TFL), and is committed to improving TfL’s gender breakdown

KATE HALL HIGH SPEED TWO
The civil engineer has some impressive accomplishments under her belt. After being listed as one of Management Today’s “35 under 35” in 2007, she went on to lead Arup’s Olympic Park infrastructure design.

AOIFE CONSIDINE TFL
As a graduate mechanical engineer at TfL, Considine has a varied job – taking measurements under trains one day and 3D printing her own designs the next.

LINDA MILLER CROSSRAIL
With 20 years of engineering experience, Miller joined Crossrail in 2010, and is now project manager for the Connaught Tunnel.

A CRITICAL NEED FOR FEMALE ENGINEERS

BY ROMA AGRAWAL
WSP

National Women in Engineering Day isn’t just a celebration. It’s a landmark opportunity to draw attention to a critical economic point. The UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers in Europe – just six per cent of our engineers are women, compared with 18 per cent in Spain, 26 per cent in Sweden and 20 per cent in Italy.

I studied physics and then engineering because I loved the subjects. At university, it never bothered me that my physics course was extremely male-dominated, and I don’t believe being a woman is holding me back in my career now.

This is not the case for many young women. From a young age, there is an idea that science is not for girls; that it’s not cool. There’s also a severe lack of successful female scientists and engineers.

The definition of engineering varies wildly. It can mean anything from the guy fixing the washing machine to the builder, leading to a vicious cycle of misleading stereotypes.

To help resolve this we need to clearly define what engineering is and the multiple career paths it can open.

This is why I am an ambassador for the Your Life campaign – it allows me to spread the word, talk to women about the importance and reality of engineering and provide role models.

As part of the Ford Experience Day, celebrating Women in Engineering Day, I will be mentoring four young women on engineering and the career opportunities it can bring.

These girls are winners of Your Life’s national competition, the Formula 100, in which they triumphed by entering a video of themselves explaining what they would invent and why.

However more still needs to be done, not just to support young women, but to support the UK’s economy. We need to be thinking about women in engineering every day – not just celebrating their achievements once a year.

Does a career in engineering sound interesting to you? Please click here for opportunities with TFL.

VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email info@vercida.com for more information.

We are also officially recommended by Disability Confident as a step on achieving Employer status, please click here for more information.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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