Women in Engineering – Can we do more to create a more diverse industry?

Maddy Lagneau - Operations & Marketing Manager

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​Engineering is a foundation of innovation and economic development, transforming the world through the creation of infrastructure and technology. In the UK, engineering has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, but significant strides have been made in recent years to increase the participation and visibility of women in engineering. Today is Women in Engineering Day, and to commemorate this we are looking at the challenges women in engineering face and the progress made.

Historically, engineering in the UK has seen limited female participation. The contributions of pioneering women like Dorothy Hodgkin, the only British woman to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Beatrice Shilling, an aeronautical engineer and motor racing enthusiast, paved the way for future generations of female engineers. Increased visibility of successful female engineers and scientists in the media and through awards and recognitions has helped challenge stereotypes and inspire young women to consider careers in engineering.

Retaining women in engineering roles can be challenging. Issues such as gender bias, and a lack of career progression opportunities contribute to higher attrition rates among female engineers. According to EngineeringUK, the number of women working in engineering and tech has dropped by 38,000 in 2023. Gender pay disparity remains a concern, with women in engineering roles often earning less than their male counterparts for similar positions and qualifications.

To build on the progress made and address the ongoing challenges, several strategies can be employed. Encouraging girls to engage with STEM subjects from an early age and providing support through scholarships, internships, and mentorship programs to help build a robust pipeline of future female engineers is vital. The Women’s Engineering Society plays a pivotal role in promoting engineering to young women. Highlighting the achievements of women in engineering and providing mentorship opportunities can inspire and guide young women entering the field. They are dedicated to the support of Women in Engineering and highlight their successes. The Women's Engineering Society founded Woman in Engineering Day 11 years ago and it has provided a platform for Women across the world who are pursuing engineering. The theme for this year is ‘Enhanced by engineering’.

At Alexander Steele, we are pleased to be advocates within diversity and support organisations allowing people to have their own voice such as the Women’s Engineering Society. The Women's Engineering Society reports that only 16.5% of Engineers are female in the UK in 2022.

Inclusive Work Environments Companies must continue to foster inclusive cultures that support diversity through policies, training, and practices that address unconscious bias and ensure equal opportunities for career advancement.

The journey of women in engineering in the UK is one of progress marked by significant achievements and ongoing challenges. As more women enter and thrive in engineering roles, they bring diverse perspectives that drive innovation and growth. By continuing to support and promote gender diversity in engineering, the UK can unlock the full potential of its talent pool and lead the way in creating a more inclusive and dynamic engineering landscape.