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National Women in Engineering Day shines spotlight on gender balance

National Women in Engineering Day on 23 June - coinciding with the Women’s Engineering Society’s 100th anniversary - saw experts across the sector urge women to consider an engineering career.

The Womens Engineering Society was established in 1919 at the end of the First World War, when the women who took on engineering jobs during the war were prevented from continuing their work. 

One hundred years later, engineering is still a male-dominated profession. Women currently represent only 12 per cent of the engineering workforce, at a time of severe shortage in skilled staff - it is estimated that nearly 200,000 engineers will be needed annually in the UK through to 2024 to meet demand. 

Recent research also found that female engineers are still paid on average £9,000 less than their male colleagues. 

Speaking on National Women in Engineering Day on 23 June, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport (DfT), Bernadette Kelly, said: 

We want to challenge traditional perceptions of engineering. This isnt just the right thing to do, its necessary for engineering and transport to thrive. We simply need more engineers and people in the industry as investment grows. Currently, were not making use of a huge section of society and that cant continue. 

Parliamentary Under Secretary at DfT, Baroness Vere of Norbiton, added: 

The launch last year of theCharter for women in aerospace and aviationwas a really positive step forward, when a pioneering group of 48 aviation employers made a public pledge to do something the industry had never done successfully before - begin to tackle the profound gender imbalance in modern aviation and aerospace, and work towards a future where women can enjoy the same career opportunities, prospects and rewards as men. I was delighted to announce recently that the charter had reached 100 signatories. 

Research shows that improving diversity is also beneficial to business performance. Dr Hayaatun Sillem,Chief Executiveof the Royal Academy of Engineering, explained: 

From creativity to innovation, motivation, talent retention, health and safety and competitiveness, the evidence base is clear and growing regarding the benefits of diverse teams. The Royal Academy of Engineering is working closely with partners across the profession to ensure that the future engineering workforce truly reflects the society it serves. 

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