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How to close the engineering gender gap

Written by Kimberley Startup | October 17, 2012 | 0 Comments
People-2Attracting females to the engineering discipline has been an ongoing challenge. In fact, the latest industry figures show that only 6% of the UK engineering workforce is female. This is unchanged from 2011 and an increase of just 1% since 2008.
Whether it’s image, pressure or inappropriate advice, women do not often consider engineering as an interesting and well paid career. Yet, women and engineering could be a perfect match.
After all, engineering is more than advanced scientific knowledge. It’s about taking an open approach to problem solving and working within a team to find solutions – something females tend to do every day without a second thought – such as fitting clothes into a tiny suitcase.
In a field that advances every day, diversity promotes creativity. Therefore it’s critical for businesses to attract more women to engineering and give their company an edge over the competition.

But what needs to change for women to close the gap on the current male dominated sector?

Unfortunately, there are so few women currently in the field of engineering that there isn’t enough to go around. That’s why you must start attracting females to the discipline a lot sooner – perhaps when they are in school?
Here are four key tips to help attract more women to engineering and close the gender gap.
Promote the wealth of opportunities: Great opportunities face today’s female engineers because of rapidly changing technologies. Create awareness of the variety of career paths available, such as beer brewing and wine making, food production, management consultant and race engineering.
Getting the word out to young girls and women that these opportunities exist will help attract more of them to a career in engineering.
Consider the salaries: The averaging starting salary for graduate/junior engineering roles placed with webrecruit this year is c£21,000 – significantly higher than salaries for graduates in many other fields. But how many young women are aware of this?
The engineering industry needs to do a better job of spreading the word that it is a growing field and the remuneration is in fact, very good.
Make connections: Connect with colleges and universities in your area and offer an internship for promising students. Alternatively, you could offer a ‘taster day’ to talented female students? This is a great way to create interest and excitement about the profession.
But it doesn’t stop there. Why not ask your engineering staff to speak to schools about the opportunities available for talented women? This will help foster loyalty and attract more females to your business when they are job searching.
Collaborate: Consider partnering with professional organisations such as MentorNet and WISE (Women into Science, Engineering and Construction) to identify and encourage female engineering talent.
MentorNet helps women succeed by matching them with mentors who can guide them along the path to a successful engineering career. WISE  works with industry and education establishments to inspire females and attract them into science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies and careers.
The subject of attracting, developing and retaining women engineers is a topic that will continue to be at the forefront of the industry. But if we focus on promoting the industry at an earlier age, then there will be a greater number of female engineers in general.
If you have an engineering vacancy that you’re looking to fill, find out how webrecruit can fulfil your recruitment needs by simply requesting a brochure or calling a member of the team on 01392 829400.

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