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Renewed Focus on Gender Diversity in Engineering Needed, says BESA​

Renewed Focus On Gender Diversity In Engineering Needed, says BESA​
23rd June 2020
 

The BESA president has called for a renewed focus on improving gender diversity across engineering to help deliver economic recovery.

“Engineering professions will be crucial to the economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic, we need to power up the sector with the widest possible range of skills; yet we continue to miss a major recruitment opportunity with half of the population,” said Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) President John Norfolk.

BESA is supporting the seventh annual International Women in Engineering Day (INWED20) on 23 June 2020. This global awareness campaign is supported by UNESCO and organised by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). 

"Unless we can recruit more female engineers, our firms will find it increasingly hard to deliver the social, economic and environmental challenges we all face.”

–John Norfolk

President, BESA

 

#ShapeTheWorld for International Women in Engineering Day

 

The theme for this year’s awareness day is #ShapeTheWorld, with WES putting out a call to hear stories of how engineers shape the world and help make our planet a better, safer, more innovative and exciting place to be.

According to BESA, engineering employers were already reporting a shortfall in recruits pre-COVID-19. The association feels that the sector’s failure to improve its appeal to women and girls will hamper growth.

 

12 Per Cent of UK Engineers are Female

 

Latest statistics from EngineeringUK, a not-for-profit body working with the sector to encourage more young people to take up engineering careers, show that just 12 per cent of UK engineers are female, an improvement on the 9% recorded in 2015. 25 per cent of girls aged 16-18 would consider a career in engineering compared with more than 50 per cent of boys.

Currently, girls and women account for less than 18 per cent of higher apprentices in engineering and manufacturing – and for just 7.4 per cent of all engineering apprentices. Just 22 per cent of students starting A level Physics last year were female.

Yet, studies show that they outperform their male counterparts in all STEM A level subjects apart from Chemistry.

 

BESA Challenges the Wider Built Environment

 

BESA is challenging its members and the wider built environment sector to use this time of change to build on the International Women in Engineering Day campaign.

“It is telling that 46 per cent of girls would consider engineering as a career at age 11-14 – compared with 70 per cent of boys – but that falls to just 25 per cent aged 16-18,” added Norfolk.

“We must all do more as employers to showcase the wonderful opportunities this industry offers to all young adults. Unless we can recruit more female engineers, our firms will find it increasingly hard to deliver the social, economic and environmental challenges we all face.”

 

Women’s Engineering Society


The Women’s Engineering Society is a charity founded towards the end of the First World War, when the women who had worked in technical jobs during the war wanted to continue with the work encountered resistance. A change of law when the war finished meant that women were unable to continue with their engineering jobs, and were unwanted in the technical professions.

The Women’s Engineering Society was set up off the back of this, and they have been working since then to ensure equality for women in this sector. 

Picture: A photograph of a female engineer working at a computer 

Article written by Ella Tansley – published 23rd June 2020

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