In many sectors, it’s not uncommon to find a higher density of a certain gender and the Engineering sector is no exclusion. Over the years there’s been a shift in attitude and attention towards women’s opportunities and their potential for success, compared to men within society, and slowly, this is being represented in the market.
The General Market
Looking at the field of engineering, for years this has been a largely male-dominated industry. Likewise, the beauty industry is essentially women-dominated, and the sport sector again, is veered towards men. The stigma and gender discrimination that follows with this is the problem, and more needs to be done in all industries to make them accessible for everyone, regardless of gender.
If we look at some statistics, honing our focus on engineering- it really does put the nature of this into perspective.
Facts & Figures
The Royal Academy of Engineering conducted research in 2017 that surveyed 6,799 UK engineering professionals, giving an insight to the general profile of the workforce.
According to this data, 17% of the engineers are women (81% men, 2% prefer not to say). Clearly, we can see the gravitas of where the gender dominance lies. To further support these stats with more data, the Engineering Council (the regulatory body for engineering in the UK), released a report regarding professionally registered engineers and technicians.
The Annual Registrations Statistics Report 2017 reveals that of 9,964 workers joining the register, 11% of these registrants were women.
Again, the reoccurring theme of this research is that a relatively low volume of women are currently represented in this profession, or entering these industries. It can be argued that the ‘stigmas’ attached to certain jobs are a result of conditioning from childhood. Toys, colours, films, the media, and historical events all have a’ knock-on’ effect on the way children and young people are brought up to process thoughts and information, ultimately influencing key life decisions, notably their career choices.
More needs to be done to encourage girls to be more open to alternative opportunities from early years and make the industry more welcoming. The same can be said for boys in professions that are more associated with women.
The Pay Gap
Furthermore, if we look at the women who do have careers within this industry; there’s a noticeable difference in pay compared to men. This has been an ongoing problem for a number of years, but now steps are being taken to tackle and address the issue. Businesses are now required to report and publish their annual gender pay gap figures. Certain sectors, have a particularly wide gap, and engineering is one of them.
The latest report generated by the National Office of Statistics UK (correct as of October 2018) states the following:
Skilled trades occupations;
These statistics are in favour of men. But the issue isn’t these facts, it’s to address the issue “why?”. As mentioned above, these figures could be a result due to the way we’re brought up, and events that happened before women’s rights and equal opportunities were introduced.
What is happening
Reports and research such as these have not gone unnoticed however, groups such as the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) have developed a campaign to highlight and recognise the importance of this.
The charity is no knee-jerk reaction to the increasing awareness of the gender divide. Their work to break societal norms for women dates back to 1919, at the end of the First World War for women who wanted to pursue working in their technical jobs. After changes in legislation, it meant women then were no longer able to do this- kickstarting the development of WES.
International Women in Engineering Day
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June 23rd 2019
June 23rd 2019 sees WES and the international engineering community across all relevant sectors, celebrating 100 years through “International Women in Engineering Day”. The theme is #TransformTheFuture, and the day raises awareness of the fantastic opportunities available to women pursuing this career today.
Not only are they campaigning for awareness and a change in perceptions, the WES are celebrating the excellence of women in engineering once again with their annual WE50 awards and by supporting the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards. These awards recognise women who are overcoming the industry gender dominance and leading the way for female engineers of the future.
Despite the gender imbalance of today, the future is bright for women workers in the engineering community, more is being done to encourage societal changes and the balance between specific gender dominated roles is slowly but surely beginning to restore.
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