- One in two people think the STEM industry is outwardly sexist, which could be deterring women from pursuing careers in the field.
- 91 per cent of Brits think that it’s not important to address the gender imbalance in engineering, despite it being a heavily male-dominated industry
Ahead of International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) on Sunday 23 June, new research by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), finds that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of British women are considering taking on careers in engineering despite there only being 12 per cent* currently in industry.
When exploring the reasons why the IET led research found that nearly a fifth of women (17 per cent) suggest the disparity in those thinking about pursuing engineering and those who follow through could be down to a lack of visible role models. This becomes most evident when considering the 28 per cent of women who don’t think they’re clever enough to consider pursuing a career in engineering.
Worryingly, outdated visions of the industry could also be contributing, with 18 per cent feeling it’s not suited to their gender, whilst a further 13 per cent are put off by the fear of being discriminated against.
This can be seen most prominently with nearly half (49 per cent) of the population feeling STEM industries are outwardly sexist.
Jo Foster, IET Diversity and Inclusion Manager, said: “The statistics present quite a shocking picture of the public’s views of gender disparity in engineering. The belief that it’s not important to address the gender imbalance is very naïve and could be very detrimental to businesses and organisations that won’t reap the benefits that come from a diverse workforce.
“It’s vital we turn this around and work hard to understand and solve the reasons why women, in particular, feel that engineering careers aren’t for them. This could be ensuring we have more positive women role models, changing the perception of engineering and technology careers and working more closely with businesses.
“Good news is, we are moving in the right direction. Although small progress has been made, the fact that nearly two-thirds of women are interested in engineering careers is something to be celebrated and we will work hard to support as many as we can in the early stages of their careers.”
STEM careers, however, are valued significantly, with almost a fifth (19 per cent) of the public understanding both the wide range of job opportunities available and the earning potential of an engineering career.
To mark this year’s INWED, and to highlight diversity across engineering and technology – not just gender – the IET has launched its new social media campaign #IAmAnEngineer, which features a variety of real-life engineers. To view the video, visit the IET’s social media channels.
Notes to Editor
*Engineering UK 2017
If you would like an embed code for the IET’s #IAmAnEngineer INWED video, please contact the press office – details below.
The research for Institution of Engineering and Technology was carried out online by Opinion Matters throughout 17/05/2019 to 23/05/2019 amongst a panel resulting in 1,000 13-23 year olds responding.
About the IET
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- We are a diverse home for engineering and technology intelligence throughout the world. This breadth and depth means we are uniquely placed to help the sector progress society.
- We want to build the profile of engineering and technology to change outdated perceptions and tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.
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