The study suggests that females often make career decisions over a longer period of time, providing more opportunity to interest them in STEM jobs – especially engineering, where they comprise just 8% of apprentices in Britain.
Notable achievers such as Kimberley Norris, winner of the 2018 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards’ Rising Star category [pictured], are helping to raise engineering’s profile in schools.
However, engineering careers outreach programmes can achieve better results if they broaden their target to women aged 15 to 25, said the IMechE. Another strategy would be to not only focus on those with an interest in science but also to include those with a passion for the arts and creative work, advises the report authors.
“Female engineering apprentices are something of a rarity but there is no evidence that they are a ‘breed apart’” said Peter Finegold, head of education at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and lead author of the report.
“The UK school population may include many more young women who could be attracted to this career route, given the right opportunities.”
Below, women engineers from St John's College, Oxford discuss their career choices to mark International Women in Engineering Day 2018 earlier this year.