How can we encourage greater representation in engineering and science?
Female engineers have accomplished incredible feats over the years, from Mary Anderson who brought us the windscreen wiper and Emily Roebling, who is best known for her contribution to the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, to Vera Sandberg, Sweden’s first female engineer, and a particular inspiration for me in the work I do.
The number of Women and BAME groups employed in engineering and science roles across the globe is startlingly low. Yet a growing, changing economy is generating ever more demand for engineers from all walks of life. Redressing the balance and ensuring greater representation is a challenge we must tackle now if we are to reverse the trend and benefit from the skills and experience these groups bring.
Women account for just 28% of engineering graduates in the world, according to a report published in February 2021 by UNESCO, entitled ‘The race against time for a more intelligent development.’
What’s more, many OECD member countries don’t even hit that figure, with just 26% in France, 20.4% in the US and 14% in Japan.
Data from the Women’s Engineering Society reveals a similarly dismal picture in the UK, with women representing just 12% of the engineering workforce.
This lack of female representation means we are denied the skills and experiences of a group that make up some 50% of the population.
On so many levels, it is imperative that we strive for a better balance – not only in relation to gender, but across all other areas such as ethnicity and age – so that we have equal representation.
And in the field of innovation, it’s perhaps even more important to have all groups working together to solve some of the biggest challenges facing us as a society.