Chemical engineering provides a significant boost to social mobility, according to a survey of young professionals carried out by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE).
Its study of 1,226 UK respondents revealed nearly three quarters who self-described as coming from a working class or lower middle-class background.
Nearly half of the sample said they had changed social class as a result of their career in chemical engineering.
The survey was contained in the report Social mobility: a survey of the UK chemical engineering profession and was co-authored by IChemE trustee and diversity champion Wendy Wilson.
She commented: “IChemE's Diversity and Inclusion Working Group has been working with members to better understand the opportunities and threats to upward social mobility in chemical engineering in the UK.
“Our findings support the conclusion that a career in chemical engineering enables upward social mobility.”
However, the findings also highlighted that entrants to the profession from a working class background were less likely to study chemical engineering at top ranked universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London or University College London.
Our findings support the conclusion that a career in chemical engineering enables upward social mobility
Wendy Wilson, author, IChemE report
Also, more than a third of those from working class families believed it was becoming harder for socially disadvantaged people to succeed in chemical engineering, said Wilson who added: “We therefore must not be complacent, and should look at ways that the profession can improve accessibility to chemical engineering.”