What comes to mind when you think of an engineer?
Do you think of the workman who comes to repair your washing machine? Or an introverted male who spends his day thinking about maths equations? Perhaps the word suggests your father who loves nothing better than tinkering with machinery?
If you agree with any of the above, you’re certainly not alone. According to Engineering UK, just 12% of the 6.1 million engineers in the UK are female.
However, it’s not all bad news.
Numerous campaigns and initiatives have been launched over recent years which aim to get more women to join this exciting and dynamic industry and so far, the gender gap appears to be closing.
In this article, we’re going to look more closely at the statistics about women in engineering, understand why this gender gap exists and how you can find a job in engineering.
What do the statistics say about women in engineering?
Sadly, women have always been underrepresented in engineering, especially in the UK where the percentage of female engineers traditionally hovered around 9%.
However, there have been many efforts to redress the balance, and core STEM subjects such as science, ICT, design and technology and maths have increased in popularity in schools and universities across the UK in recent years with more girls than ever exploring these fields.
In their 2018 Workforce Statistics report, WISE explain;
“We saw a 25% increase in the number of professional women engineers in a sector that grew 8.5% overall. [2011-2018] Over the past 5 years, nearly 58,000 women are working as professional engineers, more than double the number there were in 2013, 5 years ago.”
Although this is exciting news and certainly steps in the right direction, we’ve still got a long way to go.
The gender gap is larger in the UK than many other countries across the world such as Latvia, Cyprus, Bulgaria and India where female representation in the workforce stands at around 30%.
Why does the gender gap exist?
The reason for the gender imbalance in engineering lies both in the stereotypes we hold about gender and careers and the misconceptions we hold about the engineering industry as a whole.
Many women don’t ever consider engineering to be a career that would welcome their talents and interests and they don’t realise that engineering can be a highly creative, flexible and dynamic career which pays a rewarding salary and provides great career satisfaction.
They don’t realise that engineering offers a vast array of different career opportunities that can help solve the problems of the world including helping disadvantaged communities, improving the environment, boosting sustainability and making positive changes to people’s lives.
That’s why information and promotional campaigns play such an important role in promoting change. Together we can break down stereotypes, uncover new talent and welcome more women than ever into one of the most rewarding and meaningful careers around.
Tips to help you start your career in engineering
1. Consider your sector
Engineering offers a wider range of careers than most people realise. There’s something to suit every personality, skill set and interest. Find something that suits you.
2. Ignore stereotypes
Forget what you’ve heard about engineering being for boys. As long as you’re passionate and skilled at what you do and you have confidence in your own abilities, the world is your oyster.
3. Be yourself
There’s no need to become more masculine if you want to enjoy a career in engineering. Be yourself and allow your skills to shine.
4. Be brave
It’s not always easy to enter a male-dominated industry so stay confident and committed. Moving out of your comfort zone and facing new challenges is the best way to develop and to grow.
5. Find a specialist engineering recruiter
Although you could apply directly to brands and companies for jobs, a simple and effective way to start your engineering career is to look for engineering recruitment consultants in your area. They can help connect you with large and small businesses who are looking for talent like yours and provide you with the extra support you need.
6. Encourage other women
You can make a difference by supporting and encouraging other women interested in engineering careers. Share your experiences, fears and achievements and you could inspire a whole new generation.
There’s never been a better time to close the gender gap and encourage fresh new talent into the world of engineering. Forget the stereotypes, explore what engineering has to offer and you might just find your vocation.
About the author
Ella Hendrix is a versatile freelance writer, currently covering articles on workplace matters, career development and business trends. In 2007, she graduated in Education and trained as a primary school teacher - then a few years later, took her learned skills and positive attitude overseas to work with young children in Africa, Asia and South America. Now, she’s back on homeland, broadening her knowledge on business, marketing and career development and writing advisory articles for publications around the world. In her spare time, you’ll find her hiking hills with her Golden Retrievers or sipping tea in a local coffee shop.