As the international community celebrates Women in Engineering Day (23 June), Jonathan Lee Recruitment, the engineering recruitment specialist, warns that if attitudes don’t change the UK will continue to lag behind Europe when it comes to attracting and retaining female talent and that this could seriously hamper growth in industries that are crying out for skilled engineers.
The annual event, organised by the Women’s Engineering Society, is reporting some worrying statistics; the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, at less than 10%, compared to Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus who are leading the way with nearly 30%.
This is despite more females achieving higher A* to B combined grades in nearly all STEM subjects in 2015 compared with their male counterparts and data showing that in 2010 nearly 100,000 female STEM graduates were unemployed or economically inactive.
Meanwhile, 64% of engineering employers say a shortage of engineers in the UK is a threat to their business and 32% are currently having difficulties hiring the right staff.
Jayne Wogan, Head of Client Services at Jonathan Lee Recruitment said: “This annual event is a wake-up call to industry to think again about how to better engage with female engineers to benefit from their untapped potential. Some of the larger technical employers actively promote engineering as a career choice and fully embrace gender diversity but there are still very traditional corners of industry where the barriers to entry remain high. Embracing opportunities, for example, for flexible working where it doesn’t impact on business or an individual’s performance might open the door to more high quality female engineers.
“Even more worryingly, the perception that engineering jobs are not for women is still pervasive. Online recruitment portal CV Library asked more than 500 female engineers to share their views on opportunities in the sector for women and discovered that over half (56.5%) felt that engineering was still viewed as a profession predominantly for men.
“Across all the technical sectors, the demand for skilled engineers continues to grow, a problem compounded by the fact that so many of today’s highly skilled employees are more mature; potentially retiring within the next ten years. This means that it’s more important than ever to nurture and invest in existing and future talent. We are working closely with companies on how to adapt their businesses to meet future recruitment needs.
“The diversity of roles in the sector is also expanding as new technologies deliver higher levels of automation and connectivity. Indeed, technology is proving a great driver in enabling greater flexibility for both men and women.”
For more information about National Women in Engineering Day 2016 visit http://www.nwed.org.uk/