Traditionally a male-dominated industry, the engineering sector is doing its best to address the gender imbalance
'To achieve equality it's all about inclusion. Encouraging men as champions helps to break down the walls between genders. If we include and encourage them, they will include and encourage us. There is no need for divide; we need to create a community of inclusion,' says Nadia Johnson, a software engineer apprentice at Thales and a finalist at The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)'s Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards 2016.
What campaigns are there to encourage women into engineering?
- International Women in Engineering day - Every year on 23 June this day focuses on and celebrates the outstanding achievements of female engineers. From debates and competitions to networking breakfasts and open days events are held across the UK.
- #9percentisnotenough - The Institution of Engineering and Technology undertook research in 2016 that showed only 9% of UK engineers are female. From there a campaign was launched asking engineers - and non-engineers - to put their hand up if they felt that 9% is not enough.
- WISE campaign - WISE enables and energises people in business, industry and education to increase the participation, contribution and success of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
- 50 influential women in engineering - Launched in 2016, the campaign publicises the great things which women routinely achieve within engineering to both recognise women currently in the profession, and to inspire a new generation of women into the sector.
- People Like Me - Targeted at a younger audience this aims to support the recruitment of girls into STEM subjects post-16, particularly those not typically chosen such as physics and engineering.
How are women in engineering recognised?
- The IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards - These awards honour the very best early career female engineers working in the UK. Awards include Young Woman Engineer of the Year (YWE), the Mary George Memorial Prize for Apprentices and the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Prize.
- The WISE conference and awards - An opportunity to recognise inspiring organisations and individuals actively addressing the core concerns of WISE: promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics to girls and women.
What advice would you give to women looking to get into engineering?
Nadia has these tips…
- Be confident in what you do - A 'can-do' attitude can work wonders. It isn't always going to be easy, you'll be pushed out of your comfort zone, but that's the best way to develop and grow.
- Ignore stereotypes - Stereotypes will remain a prominent part of the engineering world if they are acknowledged as a barrier. They need to be broken down and forgotten about. In the grand scheme of things if you're good at your area of expertise and if you believe in yourself, you can't go wrong.
- Encourage and empathise with others - This is extremely important as we need to work together to encourage other women in to engineering and show them that we understand their issues and barriers. As a collective I think we are great at empathy so we need to capture this and share our own experiences, fears and achievements so that others can see engineering as a worthwhile and rewarding career choice.