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Collaboration aims to empower women in engineering

Posted on 22 Jun 2024. Edited by: John Hunter. Read 510 times.
Collaboration aims to empower women in engineeringAhead of International Women in Engineering Day (23 June) organisations from across the STEM industries in the UK have announced their intention to work together to empower women in engineering and manufacturing. This pledge to increase collaboration is the result of a roundtable hosted by Enginuity CEO Ann Watson, the charity dedicated to helping employers in the engineering and manufacturing sector find new ways to close skills gaps, that was attended by senior representatives from organisations such as Construction Inclusion Coalition, Energy and Utility Skills, Women’s Engineering Society,, Women in Sustainability Network, and Womens Utilities Network.

Chaired by Karen Boswell, managing director of Baxi UK and Ireland, who in her career as a senior leader running engineering and manufacturing businesses has advocated for diversity and inclusion, the participants discussed challenges facing women in the engineering and manufacturing sector, including the need for increased gender diversity and the issue of mid-career leavers. According to a recent study by Engineering UK, the proportion of women in engineering and technology roles has decreased from 16.5% to 15.7% in the past year, with a significant number of women leaving roles between the ages of 35 to 44.

Reflecting on this worrying trend, the participants discussed other challenges facing women in the engineering and manufacturing sector, underscoring the necessity for enhanced collaboration and the need to unite industry sectors. While acknowledging the unique requiremetns of different sectors, the participants agreed to work together given the pressing need for a more unified and inclusive representation. The result is an agreement to collaborate on the following key themes announced yesterday:

Communication campaign for attraction — the group aims to generate a wealth of stories from women in the sector, enriching future campaigns and developing the central content repository. Channels such as TikTok and other social media platforms, will be key to attracting young women by showcasing engaging and inspiring stories from female engineers. The group is actively looking for women in engineering and manufacturing to share their career stories to inspire the next generation.

Leadership and culture for retention — the group will focus on highlighting the importance of leadership and organisational culture in retaining women in engineering roles. It aims to address the need for supportive and inclusive workplace environments that encourage women to thrive and progress in their careers. Sharing stories of successful female leaders and their experiences will promote a culture of mentorship and support within the industry.

System/policy changes needed from the Government: The group will advocate for policy changes at Government level to support gender diversity in engineering and manufacturing. With the general election in early July, the new Government will be urged to support skills and education policies and systems that facilitate entry routes and career progression for women in the sector. Collaboration with policymakers will be essential to drive systemic change and ensure long-term improvements in gender diversity.

Ann Watson, CEO of Enginuity, said: “Encouraging more women to enter and stay in the UK engineering and manufacturing sector can play an important role in closing skills gaps. International Women in Engineering Day reminds us all that there is more to do to shift the dial and ensure that we have diverse talent joining and thriving in the sector.”

She concluded: “Only by working in collaboration can we jointly take bigger steps towards greater inclusivity and representation in engineering and manufacturing. By bringing together diverse voices and experiences, the aim is to create a supportive and collaborative environment that empowers women at all stages of their careers. Through this unified effort, challenges can be addressed and will pave the way for a more equitable and dynamic future.”