Today marks the first National Women in Engineering Day – a day dedicated to raising the profile and celebrating the achievements of women in engineering.
Mark Beswick, managing director at specialist engineering company, R&B Switchgear Group, commented: “I think we need to be educating school children on the vast range of careers open to them within the engineering sector. But I think this needs to be approached at a much younger age. It’s no good speaking to school leavers about career options, this needs to be woven into the curriculum to allow young people to understand how their choice of subjects can be applied outside of the classroom. Girls outperform boys across the board, yet only 12% of engineering and technology undergraduates are women. What’s more, an even smaller number take up jobs in the sector once they leave university. I believe that it’s about changing perceptions of the engineering sector and it’s the responsibility of teachers, the government and companies to make this change and start communicating the role of engineering more effectively.”
“In my opinion, the new WISE initiative by Range Rover Evoque is particularly interesting. The scholarship is open to young women who are starting an engineering course and offers each student a grant and a mentor from Land Rover, as well as a summer placement. I think it’s even more interesting that they teamed up with Zara Philips to launch the programme. Range Rover has definitely positioned itself as a pioneer within the engineering sector and has built affiliations with a number of successful women to build on its brand identity. The fact that these women are not connected with engineering as a sector is irrelevant, they are role models in their own right and it’s initiatives such as this which will help draw young women into the engineering sector.
“With the economy beginning to pick up momentum, companies are beginning to scrutinise the way they recruit and are looking at new ways of attracting new talent. A more diverse workforce is likely to be more innovative, more productive and have a more balanced approach to problem solving. The more companies look at their approach to recruitment, the closer we get to bridging the existing gender divide. But we still need to join the dots with other external factors, such as schools and careers advice, that also have an influence in this area.
“There are endless opportunities available to young women looking to embark on a career within the engineering sector. I think the lifestyle options available are often overlooked and they are a huge part of what makes our sector so exciting. Skilled engineers have the opportunity to work with some of the world’s biggest brands in some of the world’s most iconic locations. Speak to companies about the work they do and the opportunities that they offer and see if they can offer you work experience.”