Yesterday (21st June 2019) was International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) – An annual event that aims to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the amazing career opportunities available to women in this exciting industry.
In 2018, INWED saw 245 separate events being held, with an additional 50 international events across the world – all aimed at supporting women in engineering, encouraging and promoting the education and application of engineering, and to engage with organisations to promote gender diversity and equality in the workplace.
Donna West, Head of Technical Recruitment here at Cooper Lomaz has been reflecting on how recruiting women into engineering positions has changed over the past 20 years.
“As a traditionally male-dominated industry, the number of women working in engineering roles has dramatically changed since I began my career. It used to be incredibly rare to find women in these roles and while this has vastly improved, a lot more still needs to be done”.
In 2018, just 12% of the engineering workforce was female (according to EngineeringUK’s The State of Engineering Report).
“We all need to promote engineering as an exciting, inclusive, and rewarding career for women, and to highlight the diverse opportunities that exist as an engineering and technology professional. This is why I find it so exciting to see initiatives and events happening throughout the UK aimed at encouraging women to pursue careers in the engineering sector.”
Where did it all start?
You might be surprised to know that women have been working in engineering roles since before the breakout of the First World War, albeit in small numbers. But with so many men being drafted into our armed forces, women were manning the Home Front, producing the munitions, driving the transport and helping construct the machinery that would lead to victory.
However, in 1919 the Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act forced women to give up their jobs to make room for the men returning from war. This effectively meant that women were sent home and back into their old lives.
This was when the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) was established to enable women to get degrees and remain in technical roles. This year, the Society is celebrating 100 years of supporting women engineers in education and employment.
Donna’s advice to women looking to get into engineering
Develop a curious mind.
Seek out a mentor
Join relevant forums and attend industry events.
“I’m personally fascinated by engineering – It’s like living in a real-life ‘How it’s made’ where you get to see how things are planned, designed and manufactured. It’s the perfect environment for anyone with a curious mind. I can’t imagine recruiting into any other sector now, I love the world of engineering and would recommend women to explore the wide range of opportunities available to them”.