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International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) 2022 round-up

Women in engineering roles across the region and beyond marked INWED on 23 June 2022 by sharing their views on gender diversity and what firms can do to encourage women into the sector.

INWED is an annual global celebration of women in engineering originally created by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), an English charity founded in 1919 to campaign for the right for women to continue working as engineers after the First World War.

One of the Growth Hub’s Manufacturing Advisors, Rachel Baldry, has previously shared her experience of a career in engineering to mark INWED, and below are some more perspectives from this year’s celebration.

Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO of WES (speaking to The Manufacturer):

“While things are improving for women in engineering, the engineering workforce has expanded so more women will be coming into the sector. This is good news for companies because the more women you have in your company, the better your engineering is going to be – women think about things differently and bring a different viewpoint to the table. Diversity within a business can only be a good thing.

“One of the things we want to do more of is encouraging young women to get mentors. We have set up a mentoring programme to encourage our members. We did a survey just before the pandemic about what was blocking women in their careers, and we found that it was mostly the lack of opportunities to advance and the lack of mentoring and support.

“We know from research that men and women do better in equal teams, rather than all male teams or all female teams, so I think embracing women’s ingenuity and creativity is the future. We encourage companies to get involved with us and help them employ women. And we encourage women who are engineers to join us so that we can help them achieve their potential.”

Jess Davies, Professor in Sustainability at the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation at Lancaster University:

“One of the main challenges for women starting out in engineering is seeing it as a profession for them – having great female role models is incredibly important. And while there has been great progress, events like International Women in Engineering Day help celebrate these.”

Claire Watson, Managing Director at Airmatic, a Bury-based ductwork and fabrication manufacturer, which has previously been supported by GC Business Growth Hub (speaking to The Manufacturer):

“As women in engineering, our voices should be loud enough for young women and those searching for a rewarding career to hear. Awareness days such as International Women in Engineering Day are a vital part of this, where we can come together to shine a light on our ability and innovation.

“I’ll be starting a recruitment search for the talent of tomorrow, liaising with Apprenticeship UK and other government schemes to raise awareness of career and growth opportunities within the industry. I would love to expand my network and welcome any fellow women in engineering to get in touch so we can learn from each other and make a difference.”

Marie Horton, Senior Research Analyst at EngineeringUK:

“Our recent briefing on women in engineering showed that 16.5% of the engineering workforce were women in 2021. Encouragingly this is up from 10.5% in 2010 but compared to the total workforce, where 48% were women, we see there is much work to be done to achieve gender equality in engineering.

“It’s perhaps not surprising that there are fewer women entering the workforce when the perception of engineering being a male-dominated environment starts at an early age and persists into adulthood. The Engineering Brand Monitor showed that a third of young people agreed that ‘boys would make better engineers than girls’. This was highly correlated with views of their parents, of whom 37% agreed that ‘there are natural differences between men and women that make men better suited to a career in engineering’, along with 10% of STEM secondary school teachers.

“The sector must continue to work together to create and promote the engineering workforce as an inclusive and diverse working environment to attract more women into the profession and be able to tap into their skills, innovation and creativity into the future.”

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