Chair of Make UK Dame Judith Hackitt has marked this year’s International Women in Engineering Day with a call to young women across the UK to join the next intake of apprentices.
The proportion of women in the UK joining the sector as apprentices is 7.5% but at Make UK’s own Technology Hub in Aston, Birmingham, the figure is almost 10% of the current intake.
Dame Judith commented: “2020 has demonstrated to us all, more than ever before, the need for talented people to address the challenges we face in engineering, manufacturing and in every aspect of how we live our lives.
“Solutions to some of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced require diverse and inclusive teams – women and men from all backgrounds. Young people who really want to make a difference in the world choose engineering.
"Make UK’s centre at Aston is a shining example of diverse and inclusive groups working together to shape the future. More than ever before your talent and your passion is needed in manufacturing.”
Now in its seventh year, International Women in Engineering Day is an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in the industry. The theme of this year’s campaign is #ShapeTheWorld.
Support for the new campaign came from Make UK’s own female apprentices. Vicky Stanislavska, a Make UK apprentice with Alcon, explained her motivation, saying:
“I decided to go into engineering because I believe that there are so many opportunities in this field, because of my interest in cars, and I wanted an opportunity to work in the automotive industry. Places will always need engineers and there are so many jobs which women would enjoy.”
Solutions to some of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced require diverse and inclusive teams – women and men from all backgrounds.
Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair, Make UK
Evie Hammond, in her third year as a Severn Trent engineering apprentice, spent her first year of studies at Make UK’s Technology Hub.
She said: “Not only have I gained on-the-job experience, but I have also gained the same academic achievements of someone that went to university to do a similar course. I definitely made the right decision!”
Meanwhile, the British Pump Manufacturers Association has carried out a survey amongst members, to help better understand how it can help companies to attract and retain more women engineers.
Office of National Statistics data reveal an impressive growth in the number of women in manufacturing to 25.6% of those employed – more than a quarter of the workforce in the sector. However, this is far short of the proportion of females in the total UK workforce across all industries, where women account for around 50% now.
To address this, the BPMA distributed questionnaires to a cross-section of its member companies, for completion by female employees.
It reveals that a key driver for women entering a career in engineering is an interest in knowing how things work and a desire to solve problems and learn new things.
Other factors cited by respondents was having a positive engineering role model or a desire to ‘follow in the family footsteps’ and interest in STEM subjects at school.
BPMA technical services officer Gary Wilde, who orchestrated the survey commented: “The onus is on existing engineers to pass on their excitement and enthusiasm about their job to those around them.
“A love of maths and science at school was another key indicator for many, which underpins the need for teachers and schools to inform their pupils about the many different engineering careers that are available to them.”
And the results demonstrated the importance of encouragement during work experience and training.
Respondent Nancy Ashburn of Watson-Marlow started working in the pump industry in her gap year while looking for work experience. Mandy Bailey was the first female engineering apprentice at Mono Pumps (now NOV) leading the way within the company for other women engineers.
She said: “I love my current role in engineering as customer care team leader as I get to help fix customers problems while learning something new every day.”