Press release

Battle continues to get more women into engineering

24 June 2011


New research shows there has been no change over four years to attract more women into engineering careers.

The proportion of women in engineering roles has remained static since 2008 while the proportion of female technicians has also remained unchanged.

The survey, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), shows that only 6 per cent of engineers (5 per cent in 2008) and 3 per cent of technicians (5 per cent in 2008) are women.

Paul Davies, Head of Policy at the IET said: “It is really disappointing that no progress has been made to attract more women into engineering over the last four years.  Part of the reason for this is down to the outdated views of engineering that many people have.

“We run a number of initiatives to challenge these perceptions and attract young women into the sector.  It is not a problem that can be sorted out quickly or in isolation.  There are actions that the government can take in terms of support, the profession can do more to co-ordinate its activities and organisations can do more to provide an attractive working environment.”

Shadow Minister for Innovation and Science, Chi Onwurah MP, who worked as an engineer before entering politics, said: “When I studied engineering 25 years ago, 12% of engineering students were women.  A quarter of a century later that figure has not changed, and that is one of the reasons why science and technology remains sidelined in our culture and in our economy. That has to change.

“To compete globally we need more engineers and scientists and we need to be drawing them from a larger pool.  I call on the Government to do more to encourage more girls into science and engineering, and improve the availability of quality STEM teaching.”

The survey also shows that nearly half of the companies questioned (47 per cent) are planning to recruit this year.  

However, of those recruiting, 48 per cent are struggling to find senior engineers to fill their vacancies.  These figures suggest that employers are beginning to experience a potentially serious skills shortage as they recover from the recession.

Media enquiries to:

Robert Beahan, press officer
T: +44 (0)1438 767336
M: +44 (0)7595 400912
E: rbeahan@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

About the report:

The IET Skills and Demand in Industry Report polled 400 UK employers of engineers and technicians. The survey was conducted in April 2011 using a 20 minute telephone questionnaire.

How the IET supports women in engineering:

  • The IET’s Young Woman Engineer (YWE) of the Year Award rewards the very best female engineer that the UK has to offer. The reward highlights the achievements of women in engineering and thereby encourages other women to enter the profession.
  • In July 2011, the IET will launch a Women’s Network on Facebook to engage with women who work or wish to work in engineering.
  • The IET also offers financial or in-kind support to the following organisations: The Wise Campaign; the Women’s Engineering Society (WES); W-Tech; and the Equalitec consortium.
  • The IET’s Faraday education programme engages with around 300 schools at 50 events around the UK with the aim of inspiring and attracting the engineers of the future.
  • The IET provides around £200,000 every year in awards and scholarships.

About the IET:

  • Interview and filming opportunities are available.
  • A full version of the report is available upon request.
  • Expert IET spokespeople are available for interview.
  • The IET is Europe’s largest professional body of engineers with over 150,000 members in 127 countries.
  • For more information, visit www.theiet.org.