Industry celebrated International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June with the news that more than one million women now work in STEM roles in the UK, but more work is needed to increase diversity.
Organised by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and supported by industry leaders such as Boeing and the Royal Academy of Engineering, INWED celebrates the achievements of women in engineering and related roles.
Gender diversity is gradually increasing in the manufacturing and engineering workforce. According to WISE, a campaign for gender balance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), there are now one million women in STEM-related roles for the first time. However, this is still under a quarter (24 per cent) of the total number of STEM professionals in the UK.
The disparity is more stark in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. In 2019 it was revealed that women represented only 12 per cent of the engineering workforce, while research shows that the proportion of women joining the manufacturing sector as an apprentice is currently just 7.5 per cent.
Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, commented:
“2020 has demonstrated to us all, more than ever before, the need for talented people to address the challenges we face in engineering, manufacturing and in every aspect of how we live our lives. Solutions to some of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced require diverse and inclusive teams – women and men from all backgrounds.”
It is estimated that nearly 200,000 engineers will be needed annually in the UK through to 2024 to meet demand. To raise awareness of the skills shortage and highlight the huge discrepancy between the number of men and women in engineering professions, each year INWED publishes a list of the Top 50 Women in Engineering. This year’s list focused on the theme of ‘Sustainability’.