Press release

Lack of female engineers hurting Scottish economy

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."

Media enquiries to:

Robert Beahan
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7595 400912

Notes to editors:

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.