Investigation into low number of UK female engineers

Published:  21 June, 2010

Speaking at the 'Decisions at 18' Careers Conference at Royal Holloway University of London recently, Paul Jackson, chief executive of Engineering UK, highlighted the disparity in the percentage of female engineering professionals in the UK compared to other European countries. The fact that the percentage of women working as engineering professionals in Spain, Sweden and Italy, and the vast majority of other European countries, was twice that in the UK was simply not good enough he asserted and announced plans to commission a piece of research into the reasons behind the disparity.
Addressing the conference of teachers and careers advisors on the subject of STEM opportunities and barriers to entry, Jackson announced that EngineeringUK had carried out a recent review of the data relating to women in engineering and technology and identified UKRC research that showed that only 9% of UK engineering professionals are women compared to 18% in Spain, 26% in Sweden and 20% in Italy.
This continuing lack of female engineers was one of three major barriers to tackling skills shortages in the UK sector, Jackson argued. Poor take up and retention rates for Further Education engineering courses as well as a 10% decrease in the number of 18 year olds were also causes for concern but none more so that the fact the UK ranked worst in Europe for the number of female engineering professionals.
Paul Jackson said: "The fact that the proportion of female engineering professionals in the UK is the lowest in Europe is shocking. It"s essential we get behind these figures and understand why; what is it that our European neighbours are doing differently; what can we learn from them? Over the next twelve months, EngineeringUK will be commissioning research to understand what lies beneath this disparity and what the UK must do differently in future to address it. We need a step rather than incremental change in the number of women entering the engineering profession in the UK if we are to meet the future global technological challenges that lie ahead.”

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