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Poll: How can the gender gap in engineering be reduced?



It’s 2019 and yet the engineering industry in the UK remains dominated by men. At the time of writing women make up just 12.3% of all engineers in the UK according to the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). It’s clear there’s a remarkable gender gap in the world of engineering. Our question to you in this week’s EngineeringPro Poll is ‘How can the gender gap in engineering be reduced’?

Attracting more women to the UK engineering sector is vital – especially given the recent finding that the UK is facing a serious engineering skills shortage with as many as 1.8 million new engineers needed by 2025 in order to maintain our current level of economic growth and industrial development.

In addition to this worryingly large skills gap, there is also the problem of the ‘leaky pipeline’ whereby female graduates fail to continue to progress their engineering careers.
How can the gender gap in engineering be reduced?
The perception of engineering as a ‘male discipline’ is also an enduring problem, as described by award-winning chartered electrical engineering Kerrine Bryan to The Guardian:

“We’re losing potential engineers at every stage of life, and it starts from a young age because bias and misconceptions in media and toys often implant ideas into children’s minds that engineering is for men and involves getting your hands dirty and fixing things, which doesn’t appeal to girls if they’re brought up to believe they should be quiet, neat and tidy.”

The idea that engineering is somehow a ‘male’ discipline is also disproved by results in engineering fields of study. According to Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO of the Women’s Engineering Society, “Girls outperform boys in engineering fields of study. In all STEM A-levels, except chemistry, more girls get A*-C grades than boys, and this pattern continues at degree level. Almost 80% of female engineering students will get a first or an upper second-class degree, compared with 74.6% of male students.”

So, what can be done to address the gender gap in engineering?

As EngineeringPro’s gender diversity roundtable event held in collaboration with Premier Oil last year demonstrated, there are several actions that companies, policy makers and educational institutions can take to increase the representation of women in engineering.
There are several actions that companies, policy makers and educational institutions can take to increase the representation of women in engineering.
These can include raising the profile of engineering within the school curriculum so that it is more likely to be seen as a viable career path for young women, a greater emphasis upon the societal benefits that engineering brings thus tapping into the motivations and desires of younger job seekers, the provision of clearer career paths for women by major engineering firms, the use of quotas in both the university and workplace settings to ensure equitable and balanced workforces, and much more.

The question we pose to you then is ‘How can the gender gap in engineering be reduced?’

Vote now!

Vote now in the poll at the top of this page or leave a comment below. The most insightful, thoughtful comments will be featured in the next issue of the weekly EngineeringPro newsletter.
Recent Comments
I think offering more flexible working options and the option to work remotely / from home would help a lot. I work for an Oil & Gas Company. I have a female fried who is a qualified Engineer but she chose to return to work in a Technical Assistants role after starting her family, rather than back in professional engineering role again. Simply because work / life balance is much more important to her these days than a high salary or career development. As a Tech Assistant she can finish every day at 3.30 to pick her children up from school, she never has to work late, or travel out of town to attend meetings, she never needs to go Offshore or Overseas to visit sites, she is not required to do any overtime or to be "on call" at weekends etc.
James Brown , 15 July 2019
My extremely anti-PC (and for some, sexist) comment: Male to Female GENDER-GAP in Engineering will surely be reduced (short of a blue-moon) ONLY WHEN the same GAP in NURSING reduced to the same %%%%%. Can we get real, and face the facts and music??? Answered by BS+MS+MBA Engineer in Oil & Gas.
ANDRE GURSES, 17 July 2019
Why do we need to reduce the gender gap in engineering? There are less females working in engineering simply because there are less females wanting to work in engineering. It's not because they don't know about engineering as a career choice or are not welcome in the profession. Females are very welcome in engineering in my experience and the ones who do choose engineering as a career are very successful.
Nathan Chappell, 18 July 2019
the woman has surpassed the man...why??... because the man who works with her is the one who made her (Raising women for their children). Thenk you KATE
MERZOUK SALAH, 19 July 2019
Why don't people strive for gender equality in underground mining, or bricklaying, or garbage collection or on the converse, child carers or nurses. Oh that's right its only applicable to girl power for the perceived high end jobs. Actually the discrimination against men trying to enter oil companies is palpable, basically white middle aged male albeit with 25years + worldly experience, forget it.
MARK , 25 July 2019
Positive discrimination is discrimination whichever way you look at it, so, quotas and percentages are wrong. Let women and men compete on an even playing field. I have no problem working with and for women but they must be in post because they are capable. I am not there to carry anybody. I notice there are many young ladies featured in the many, if not interminable award ceremonies. Might I be cynical in presuming that they are allowed to work at the award requirement whilst the men get the job done? Or is that a step too far in today's PC world? We are regaled with the mental health issues of young men who often commit suicide. We have a generation of young men who have had to deal with the encroachment of women into traditionally male work areas. For every woman hired there is , potentially, a young man displaced. No one is fighting the men's sid euntil they start killing themselves.
Geoff Waters, 26 July 2019
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Poll: How can the gender gap in engineering be reduced? - Time to read 3 min
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