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Its international women in engineering day! #INWED17

Today is International Women in Engineering Day (INWED). A day to celebrate the role of women in engineering: from highlighting positive role models, to inspiring future and current generations to achieve their potential. Is this something that needs celebrating? Our civil engineering team at Cityscape Recruitment asked themselves this and were surprised when, after a bit of discussion, they said an absolute YES!

international women in engineering day

Engineering still feels, and certainly is, a very male dominant sector. Across the whole engineering workforce in the UK, approximately 8% are women. This is the lowest rate across Europe. Many reasons are cited as to why this might be and mainly focus on the idea that there is ongoing stigma surrounding women in engineering. Plus the idea of sexual stereotyping (from a young age – “Girls are just put in a corner with a doll, while boys play with trucks and cars”), not enough female role models and misconceptions about the job itself – apparently is isn’t always about getting your hands dirty!

 

In our own experience roles from director level down to operative are still largely occupied by men. This is not surprising when there are physically fewer qualified women engineers and therefore fewer available for roles.  And, unfortunately, we have to admit that this doesn’t register with us on day to day basis. It is undeniably the norm.  That is why days like INWED are needed and should be celebrated. We need to take stock across the board and with the impending engineering skills gap we need to look at ways of encouraging more people, girls included, into the industry.

 

That being said – there are signs that change is afoot.  Civil engineering in particular seems to be bucking the trend. As reported in the ‘The Engineer’, 15% of civil engineers are now women. With each year that passes we are seeing more and more women coming into the industry at trainee level through to board level. It is starting to feel like the balance of equality between the two sexes in civil engineering is improving. Slowly but surely.

 

Across the sector we work with a variety of companies’ ­– from small privately owned specialist civil engineering businesses all the way up to the largest names in the sector worldwide. Within these it’s positive to see that a lot of the ‘sexist’ tendencies are fading into the past – sexist tendencies that may have developed purely due to the lack of women in the pool to pick from – and gender diversity and inclusion are being celebrated. Some of the biggest names in the sector have women at all levels of management and even smaller subcontract businesses are receiving a lot more applications from women who are graduating in civil engineering courses across the country.

 

So what more can we do to continue this positive change towards diversity? Should colleges and universities take the lead in attracting women to this sector? Or should it start earlier in schools when girls are making GCSE and A-level choices so they take the prerequisite courses to make engineering a viable career option at university? Claire Rose, a senior civil engineer working at Bechtel, stated in ‘The Engineer’ that this is exactly where the sector should be targeting.

international women in engineering day

Another school of thought suggested by Lee Franck, a senior engineer at Arup, is to somewhat ‘re-brand’ engineering:

“If we can portray our job as the stimulating, diverse and rewarding job that it is, this should be attractive to all genders, break down any false perceptions of barriers or misconceptions and generally get more talented and motivated people into the industry, which is what we need,”

(Source: The Engineer)

 

So change is happening and the right thinking and steps are being taken. But of course more can always be done. We were shocked when we actually sat down and thought about the numbers. Again this is why INWED is needed so the industry stops and takes stock.

 

The role we play in the industry is further down the career path. We wouldn’t have much influence over school children making GCSE choices. Where we can start to make a difference is helping graduates in taking that big step from University into an actual engineering job. We attend career fairs to educate graduates about companies and job roles as well as discussing the specific opportunities available to women and the changing trends that are opening up the industry to them.  We also work closely with industry leading companies to continually try and address the imbalance of females to males in their engineering workforce.

 

Ultimately, as recruitment consultants, what we can do is pledge to continue to empower all our engineering candidates in their chosen career (see our candidate page for more information). Inspiring them to make the right choices at this stage of their life that will help them fulfill their potential and their careers flourish.

international women in engineering day

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