Less than 12% of engineers are women in the UK, the lowest percentage in Europe.
I’ve worked as an automation engineer for nearly 13 years. I have experience in the Oil & Gas, Pharmaceutical and Food & Beverage industries, they are all very different but with one thing in common: the presence of female engineers is very low, nearly nonexistent.
In my view, the engineering profession has been misrepresented to young people, and young girls don’t really know what engineers do, but wearing bright overalls and hard hats just doesn’t seem very appealing for some, so there is no interest or motivation to find out more.
In addition, there aren’t many female role models for STEM subjects so girls get the perception that they would be better suited in other fields.
By the time young people start to think about their future and the careers they want to pursue, it’s too late to talk to girls about engineering as an option, girls need to be engaged in STEM activities from their early years, but why are boys more likely to choose STEM subjects if they all go the same school?….. I’m sorry to say that it’s because, as parents, we are failing at providing a wide enough range of experiences for girls, because when they are little they get dolls and toy prams to play instead of toys that encourage problem solving and coding, because only boys get involved in their dad’s DIY projects and into using tools.
If we really want to close the gender gap in STEM careers we have to start treating boys and girls equally from the moment they are born.
If we keep thinking that girls using tools is going to end up in tears, we are just giving them an unfair start to life