Five female engineers set to turn stereotypes on their head

Published:  14 October, 2014

Five young female engineers working on the next generation of 3D printers, laser warning systems for military aircraft and the cooling system for a futuristic new car, have all been shortlisted for a prestigious engineering industry award, which aims to banish outdated engineering stereotypes of hard hats and greasy pipes – and help change the perception that engineering is only a career for men.

Jessica Bestwick (20), Hannah Pearlman (27), Laurie-Ann Marshall (20), Naomi Mitchison (28) and Lucy Ackland (26), have all been shortlisted for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards.

The IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards aim to find female role models to help address the UK science and engineering skills crisis. Women currently represent only 6 per cent of the engineering workforce in the UK (source: 2014 IET Skills Survey), the lowest percentage in Europe. If this trend continues, the UK will be in a significantly weakened position to find the 87,000 new engineers it is estimated the country will need each year over the next decade (according to Engineering UK 2014, the state of engineering).

Michelle Richmond, IET Director of Membership, and a former YWE winner, said: “The lack of women in engineering is a huge problem for this country, contributing to skills shortages which threaten the economy. It also means that women are missing out on interesting and rewarding careers.

“The difficulty in attracting women into engineering is down to a combination of things: from the careers advice girls are given in schools, to schools not instilling girls with the confidence to opt for science and maths at A-level, through to employers needing to do more to make their approach to recruitment and retention more female friendly.

“It’s also a result of the lack of inspirational engineering role models for girls – which is where our Young Woman Engineer of the Year winners can play a vital role by encouraging and inspiring more young girls to become engineers.”

The winner will be announced at the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards ceremony on 10 December in central London.

For more information, visit www.theiet.org/ywe

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