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Leading female engineer says attracting more women into engineering could help make tech more female friendly

11 October 2016


To mark Ada Lovelace Day (today), the outgoing and first ever female President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Naomi Climer, says that persuading more girls to go into engineering and technology careers will help to avoid some of the latest technology being developed exclusively for men.

Since taking up post in October 2015, Naomi has called for action to tackle the gender imbalance within the engineering and technology industry, pointing out that given the engineering skills shortage the UK currently faces, it is vital to attract more women into the profession. As she prepares to step down as President, she is now also drawing attention to technological developments that ‘forgot women’ because they were developed by a predominantly male team:

  • Healthcare app which incorporated different tracking systems such as calorie counters but did not feature a menstruation tracker for women
  • Leading game developers removed the option to play as a lead female character in new game
  • Technology voice assistants recognise statements like ‘I had a heart attack’ or statements associated with suicide, but failed to recognise spoken phrases such as “I’ve been raped,” “I’ve been sexually assaulted,” and “I was beaten up by my husband”
  • Smartphones designs that cater more to the male population because their size makes it difficult for smaller hands to type one-handed or fit the device into smaller sized pockets

Naomi Climer, IET President, said: “I became the first female president of the IET in October last year and, conscious that only 9% of the UK engineering workforce is women, it has been important to try to dispel the myth that engineering careers are not for women. There are some fantastic female engineering role models, such as Ada Lovelace, the first female computer programmer – and we must continue to celebrate more role models like her. It is a very real risk that if we continue to see important new technologies developed by a male-dominated workforce, we will be missing important tricks to ensure these developments can benefit the population as a whole – and not just men.”

Notes to editors:

For more information, visit http://findingada.com/