07 September 2011
Increasing the number of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) jobs would boost the Scottish economy according to Europe’s largest engineers’ group.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) also says that the proportion of women in STEM jobs has not improved since 2008.
The IET has raised its concerns in evidence submitted to the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Working Group inquiry Lifting Barriers To Women In STEM: A Strategy For Scotland.
Professor John Roulston, Chair of the IET’s Scotland Policy Panel, said: “A STEM literate workforce is essential to Scotland’s medium and long-term economic strength. Change is necessary to ensure Scotland makes full use of its available talent by tackling the under-representation of women.
“Society’s portrayal of engineering as a male career option must be reversed. This is an industry challenge which requires public, private and third sector solutions. Things that could be done include ensuring greater use of flexible working within companies, increased acceptance of career breaks, and more use of part-time career roles would all help to make STEM roles more attractive to women.”
Arlene McConnell, a Systems Engineer at Selex Galileo, is the IET’s ‘Young Woman Engineer of the Year’. She said: “I know that there are various new initiatives in practice today which try to reverse this trend, from changing young womens' perception of engineering, to ensuring they receive balanced career advice and the right support from industry.
“However, I believe that the 'leaky pipeline' of women flowing into STEM is due to a lack of a single, coherent approach. This can only be achieved through consensus, discussion and a unified voice. When this is done, we should start to see more and more young women investing their intellect and skills into engineering professions."