How to get more women into engineering
With International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED21) taking place on Wednesday 23rd, female engineers all over the world are being celebrated not only for the amazing work they do, but also for how they’ve responded to the pandemic. And while it’s an exciting day to celebrate our everyday heroes, we’re posing the question of how we ensure INWED gets bigger and better every year. How do we get more women into engineering?
The status quo
According to statistics published by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), engineering is one of many STEM-based industries that are still largely male-dominated, with only a mere 12.37% of all engineers in the UK being female.
There are a number of arguments as to why this could be. Some say that STEM jobs are hostile working environments for women, some say that women simply aren’t interested in the field and some say that it could be a vicious cycle; too few women already in the industry means a lack of female role models, which could make young women less likely to be attracted to the field.
Leading by example
When Dice was formed, our directors, Wayne and Raj, wanted to create a company that was different. Tired of the outdated white male stereotype that has long since been a staple of the engineering industry, we’ve always promoted a culturally diverse workforce (whether that be related to gender, religion, ethnicity or race).
By recruiting based primarily on cultural fit above skills or experience, we sought to recruit more female engineers and create an environment which was inclusive, open and receptive to ideas from everyone. With a survey from Hult Ashridge revealing that women are 11% more likely to worry about being perceived negatively when voicing their opinions in the workplace, we wanted to remove the overly laddish banter culture that might make it harder for everyone to feel confident to speak and be heard.
Start as early as possible
There’s an accepted wisdom that children are like sponges; they absorb everything being said, done and felt around them. So when it comes to ensuring gender equality in STEM-based fields, it makes sense that this needs to be encouraged from a young age.
Exposing children to books and media that show diverse representation of men and women, as well as motivating them to play with toys that are typically made for the opposite gender can help to give children the platform to explore and develop their passions. While many people may believe that a lack of female engineers is due to a lack of interest, it may simply be down to a lack of exposure or encouragement when they were younger.
Of course, it isn’t just about childhood. Ensuring there are viable routes into STEM fields is also important. While traditional university routes remain unattainable for some, there are a number of great apprenticeships that provide educational benefits and the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’. We have invested in our apprenticeship scheme with Nottingham Trent University to help develop the next generation of engineers and to encourage more women into the industry.
And while it’s great to get women into engineering, it’s even better to get them to stay. By focusing on flexible work schedules, creating an accepting culture and removing the glass ceiling, we can start to create a real change within the industry.