Shortage of female engineers is a threat to the UK, says industry chief


Rebecca Burn-Callander Enterprise Editor

December 4, 2015

Just 9pc of the UK’s engineering workforce is female, with the country needed an extra 1.82m engineers to meet demand over the next seven years

More female engineers are “vital” if Britain wants to keep up with evolving technologies and help solve pressing global issues, the head of a leading industry body has warned.

Naomi Climer, president of the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET), said that the ongoing shortfall of women not only threatened the UK’s ability to keep up with the rest of the world, but also affected the quality of the country’s inventions and solutions.

“We need more women, not just because we won’t have enough engineers if we don’t, and not just to make the workforce more balanced but because I genuinely think the technology will be better if women are involved,” she said.

The IET, which has 150,000 members across 127 countries, has launched a new initiative to help promote engineering and the sciences to women.

It has published new guidance for employers, suggesting ways to attract female candidates, ensure they progress fairly through an organisation and encourage women back from career breaks.

I genuinely think the technology will be better if women are involved Naomi Climer

Just 9pc of the UK’s engineering workforce is female. The country requires an extra 1.82m engineers to meet demand over the next seven years.

“The shocking reality is that the UK is missing out on half its potential engineering and technology workforce by failing to attract women,” Ms Climer said.

“It’s vital that we get more women. You get much more interesting solutions to engineering challenges when you have a diverse pool of talent.”

The IET is working to find and promote more young female role models .

In a bid to show the breadth of opportunities available in engineering, far beyond the traditional electrical or mechanical engineering roles, it has created a Young Woman Engineer of the Year award.

Orla Murphy, a 25-year-old audio engineer at Jaguar Land Rover, scooped the prize at a ceremony in London on Thursday night.

“In China and India every parent wants their child to be an engineer but there’s something about the culture in Britain which makes engineering seem inherently male.” Ms Climer said. “In France, the origins of engineer are in ‘ingenious’, while in English it’s ‘engine’ and these subtleties have a symbolic impact.”

Ms Climer is the first female president at the IET in its 144-year history. The former BBC engineer and ex-vice-president at electronics giant Sony will serve a year-long term.

“I’m sanguine about what I can achieve in that time, but I hope to encourage more women into the industry,” she said. “We need engineers to solve some really serious problems, from global warming to food supply, population explosion, how to house a lot of people. Engineers plug into all of those things.”


This article was written by Rebecca Burn-Callander Enterprise Editor from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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