Women in the workplace
Girls must be encouraged to choose engineering
As a proposals engineer with Alpheus Environmental, a water and wastewater company, part of the Anglian Water Group, I find it encouraging to see such events taking place to tackle the stigma surrounding women and engineering. It was also heartening to see a debate in the Scottish Parliament on International Women in Engineering Day earlier this week.
This year’s theme of #RaisingTheBar sought to tackle prejudices, as engineering is often still thought of as a job for a man. Not enough female role models and gender stereotyping are well-documented reasons as to why girls don’t choose engineering. Misconceptions linger about the job itself, which isn’t always about getting your hands dirty.
There has been a well-recognised skills gap in engineering for some time now, and the UK, which once led the world in engineering, is now facing a considerable skills shortage.
In part, this is due to the fact that young women do not enter engineering roles at anything like the same rate as young men. Indeed, research undertaken in 2017 pointed to that fact that only 11 per cent of the engineering workforce is female.
The solution is fundamental – we need more women to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, both at school and university. We must also ensure that young women are made aware of the full range of employment opportunities on offer through qualifications in engineering, ensuring that these sectors are seen as attractive to enter.
That is why there is considerable merit in supporting employers’ initiatives with schools, helping girls to get a perspective on engineering careers. The participation of girls in activities like the Scottish Council for Development and Industry’s (SCDI) schools’ skills challenge, ‘Don’t Waste a Drop’, which our sister company Wave proudly supported, needs to be encouraged.
There is an incredibly positive story to tell about engineering, not just benefiting the young person concerned, but the economy as a whole.
Paula Ruiz is Proposals Engineer at Alpheus Environmental
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