#9percentisnotenough – Numbers of Women in Engineering
On the 10th of October the IET started a new hash tag on twitter #9percentisnoteough, informing that women only make up 9% of the engineering workforce, and the 11th of October was Ida Lovelace day, a day to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM
Since then it’s been retweeted and liked hundreds of times, people from across the engineering and tech world have raised their hands and posted photos of themselves. Search the hash tag #9percentisnotenough to see all the brilliant engineers showing their support.
As I was reading through the tweets an interesting statistic was posted, stating that if the number of women matched the number of men in engineering the GDP of the UK would raise by 7% per captia
if the benefits of working in Engineering are high and support is there, what is keeping women from starting out in a career in engineering or staying the course in their engineering profession?
There is not one answer but a whole host of reasons that are embedded in our culture and society…..careers advise for girls still steers girls onto other career paths that are seen to be more feminine or less difficult. Lack of knowledge of opportunities available at career advice level does not always give girls the opportunity of choosing an engineering path. Many female engineers when asked how they got into engineering professions will show that they learnt about their field from a family member rather than from school, as I did. My head teacher at secondary school suggested that I should study economics at University as I had an idea that I wanted to run my own business. I skipped all but one lecture on economics that featured in the first year of my engineering degree as I found it so dull, and here I am, albeit many years later, running my own consultancy business….
Engineering and technology professions are still seen to be male focussed and so can put girls off from the start. Many girls do not have confidence in their abilities and are not encouraged enough to push themselves into more technical roles.
Terms and conditions, time pressures, unconscious bias and lack of flexibility in the workplace can all help to turn working mothers away from their professions when they have children . Especially if they don’t have enough support from family and employers to manage their own time effectively around family commitments.
Much is being done across the engineering and technology professions to try to redress the imbalance that surrounds encouraging more girls into engineering and keeping them there, as well as raising the profile of the professions and improve awareness of them. My profession has changed lots since I started out and women engineers are becoming more and more common, but the changes are slow and the rise in numbers is slow, so how long will it be before we are on an equal footing with in terms of numbers of girls completing engineering degrees and for us to see that rise in GDP?
These are some of the reasons I decided to take the chair of Women in Property and Wibse so I can help support and encourage more women and girls to begin and stay in engineering. These networks offer help and support to women in engineering and the help and advice of your peers can be invaluable at the beginning of a career. Being at the forefront of these groups and with the IET and others championing the issue and raising awareness, it feels like we’re beginning to make a real difference.