In the UK, at GCSE Level, girls account for less than a quarter of computing entries, so is not a surprise that only 12% of engineers are female.
I have been in the engineering industry for over a decade, and even though I have worked with other female colleagues along the way, there really haven’t been many.
I studied Electronic Engineering, and we [women] were less than 15% of the year intake, and by the time we finished the course more than half had moved to other courses.
To be honest I had never been too bothered about why not many women study engineering… until now, I have a daughter now, she’s only a toddler learning to talk, but I’m already worried about her future and the opportunities she will have in the future.
I also have a son, two years older, and I have already started to see, what I consider, is one of the causes for this gap between men and women in STEM careers. During the early years, boys are given exciting construction sets, robots, cause and effect toys such as remote controlled cars and trains. However, most girls get very different types of toys, Such as dolls, toy prams, play houses and play food. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with these toys, on the contrary I think girls AND boys benefit from playing with them, however; girls are just not getting the same variety and lacking anything that encourages coding and robotics.
By the time kids start to choose their subjects at school, boys have been around technology for years, they will pick up anything in that field very easily, whereas girls will start at beginner level, and seeing how good boys are at technology will only increase their insecurity and perspective that women are better suited to other fields.
We need to empower our girls, give them the opportunity to have a real choice when deciding their subjects, so that they can decide what they really want to be in the future, not just pick up from the left overs.
Women make great engineers, great scientist, great researchers, they can excel in any field just as well as men do, so lets change their future by introducing STEM toys and activities from their early years, lets help them have a real choice for their future, let’s give them the opportunity to choose what they really want to be, STEM careers or not. They could be the great engineers, architects, doctors, layers of the future, they just need to know that they have it in them to succeed.