The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) aims to encourage more young people into engineering and busts myths around outdated perceptions of the engineering industry. As part of this, they are encouraging more young women to enter into the profession too and it's for good reason...
The UK needs 186,000 engineers annually through to 2024 according to a study conducted by Engineering UK. We can only fulfil this demand by being more inclusive when it comes to engineering and technology engagement efforts.
Equal Opportunity for all
Everybody should be given an opportunity to fulfil their potential which is one of the reasons why it is so important that women are given equal opportunities when it comes to education. IET Fellow and past Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award winner, Faye Banks, is a great example of this – Faye left school with no formal qualifications and started working as a line operator in a manufacturing plant. When the machines that she was using would break down, she would wait for an engineer to fix them. Faye became more and more interested in what the engineers were doing and started to ask them questions about how she too could become an engineer. She decided to go to night school to re-sit her GCSEs in order to obtain her engineering apprenticeship. Once Faye realised what she could apply her education to, there was no stopping her. She is now a very successful electrical engineer.
Gender stereotypes should not dictate the outcome of women’s career potential or the direction that it takes. Engineering is for everybody and more effort needs to be made to make it accessible to all.
Broadening the talent pool opens up opportunity for more technological breakthroughs. Currently we do not have enough engineers to help deliver the innovations or improvements of tomorrow. By overlooking and not engaging the other half of the population, we are missing out on vital developments. Take actress Hedy Lamarr for example – we may not have Wi-Fi today, had it not have been for her invention of Spread Spectrum Technology, which was initially used to prevent classified information from reaching enemy hands, during WWII, by forming an unbreakable code.
Diversity of Thought / Designing Better Products
When Apple launched their new health app in 2015 they neglected one important health aspect – a woman’s menstrual cycle tracking option. Why? Because it was mostly men working on it. Having women present at every stage of the design process is key to ensuring that both male and female perspectives are taken into account, allowing for diversity of thought and better products being produced.
Life / World-changing Career
Engineering touches every aspect of people’s lives in a number of different ways yet many of us take for granted the engineering ingenuity behind the everyday tasks that we perform or products that we rely upon. Everything from having easy access to clean drinking water, a constant electricity supply, medical equipment to the vehicles that we travel in have all been engineered. Engineers are helping to solve some of the world’s biggest problems and, in turn, improve people’s lives.
Women have a lot to offer but they are not given enough encouragement to enter the profession or an understanding of just how broad the industry is. In highlighting engineering to women, we not only benefit as a global society but it increases the opportunity for women to embark upon a meaningful career.
Shape the Future / Creativity
Engineering is a highly creative and innovative industry and engineers play a significant role in shaping the future - turning ideas into reality. Thanks to the creative vision of engineers, launching a spacecraft into space or developing smart cities to improve the efficiency of everyday lives are now a reality. Engineers are pushing the boundaries of what was once thought to be impossible and achieving greatness in the process. They are paving the way to a sustainable future and making a difference in the lives of others. By making the industry more accessible to women not only will they have an opportunity to help shape our future, they will also reap the benefits that such a rewarding career has to offer.
Highly Paid Career / Perks
Not only does engineering offer job satisfaction and provide the opportunity to work on some amazing and creative projects around the world; depending on the engineering field and skill set of an individual, engineers rank as some of the highest paid professionals in the world.
Most people recognise that a lawyer, doctor or investment banker is likely to draw in a high salary but actually engineering is one of the top paid industries in the world and, what’s more, women’s salaries are likely to progress at the same rate as their male counterparts.
It’s not just the money, but you tend to get lots of perks – think travel, food, world class training, all the things you’d expect from a leading company and specialised career.
Variety at Work
Engineering is at the heart of so many amazing things. It’s literally looking at problems and finding solutions, almost like medicine in a sense. One small invention or development could mean someone hearing for the first time, or having a prosthetic limb that enables them to live a more comfortable life. It could be a code for the next Instagram equivalent that opens up social networking to billions of people, or a solution to a more sustainable energy source that helps future generations conserve the planet – it’s a world of endless and exciting possibilities. Plus, what could be more satisfying then seeing your dream or idea brought to life! Is engineering for everyone? Of course not. But what’s important is that the people who could be the next game changer or problem solver have that talent and curiosity nurtured from a young age, so that budding engineers can realise their potential.
Good representation of both genders in the workplace is associated with higher productivity. Having the perspective of both men and women in the workplace is important, after all men aren’t from Mars and Women aren’t from Venus – we’re all from the same place, we have differences and similarities that complement each other and there should absolutely be a balance in any organisation, not just for social progression but also to achieve the best business results.
Inspire the next generation
It is vital that we recruit more women engineers so that they can serve as positive role models to the next generation and spark their curiosity. In doing so they can significantly contribute to the future of the profession and also help to break down gender stereotypes that the profession is for men, wearing hard hats and steel capped boots.
We need to get engineering on girls’ radars when they’re young. Spark their curiosity and show them examples of women who love their jobs. Whether it’s a computer engineer working on a app that teens love or an astronaut, the possibilities are endless but all stem from women who are creative and problem solvers. So many girls don’t realise the diversity and possibilities of careers in engineering and that needs to change. One way to combat this is through role models and promoting incredible women doing cool things, via awards and networking ceremonies such as young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards, an IET event that celebrates young women in the field.
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