56 per cent of UK engineering businesses think enough’s been done getting women into industry

Subcon, the subcontract manufacturing supply chain show, has revealed figures that show an industry beginning to exhaust its approach to encouraging female engineering talent to either enter, or re-enter UK manufacturing and engineering.

In 2018, respondents were asked what they thought needed to be done to encourage women to consider engineering or manufacturing as a career. Just 7 per cent said they thought that enough had been done; but for 2019, this figure has leapt to 56 per cent.

Looking at the potential methods to encourage this choice of career, greater transparency around pay was the number one tactic (according to 81 per cent) – another huge leap from the 2018 figure of 39 per cent.

“Campaigns to get more women into engineering have been more visible and there may be a sense that the job is done,” said Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO, Women’s Engineering Society. “However, it takes years to build a pipeline of women in engineering and we must keep pushing. When I went to university in the late 1980s, there would be one or two women studying for an engineering degree. These women are just now beginning to take senior roles because it takes up to 30 years to get to the right stage in a career – we have just seen Air Marshall Susan Gray become the highest ranked woman in the military ever. And if women took career breaks it will take a little longer. So, we are seeing a few women reaching the top of engineering, with more women coming through below. It’s still not enough, barely 12 per cent of all engineers are women, so we need to keep attracting women into engineering.”

This year, Subcon is celebrating 100 years of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). As part of the celebration, WES will be exhibiting at the event and the morning of the 6th will be dedicated to the need to improve UK engineering’s gender balance. The content will be curated by WES. Speakers will include WES CEO Elizabeth Donnelly, and Jan Peters, MD of Katalytik.

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