or… “STEM students unite! Why more females should consider a career in engineering.”
Ladies, it’s time to think about engineering. Degrees in science, technology, engineering and maths can all lead to hugely exciting careers in an industry that pay heaps and can take you all over the world. Still, women are massively underrepresented in the sector? Crazy, isn’t it? Here’s what we can do to change it.
What year is it? Are we still living in medieval times, when men were men and women tended the home fires? Or are we still in 1940, when men valiantly went off to battle and the women remained working at the Boeing aeroplane factory?
Yes, we’re talking about the lingering unbalanced ratio of women to men in traditional “male” fields. And we think it’s 2015 – the 21st century. The actual brave new world.
While attitudes have dramatically shifted since those men went to battle, work bias remains deeply rooted into society, indirectly influencing women’s career choices today. Female employment has risen over the past 40 years, though they tend heavily towards the care and leisure industries. It stings to write it, but only 13% of STEM jobs in the UK are occupied by women, despite the fact that girls have long outshone boys academically in school and college. Will it affect our daughters? What about our daughter’s daughters?
A campaign by WISE (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) aims to take that statistic to at least 30% by 2020, and with more women taking up roles in everything from software development to subsea engineering, the concept of a brighter female future in engineering is becoming increasingly promising.
The future is bright
The first step towards a female engineering utopia (oh, we can dream!) is challenging society’s attitudes. Promoting the huge number of opportunities for women in engineering, science and technology is one way to do that; something the Women’s Engineering Society does valiantly. The amount of female students showing an interest in civil engineering rose by 10% over the last seven years – double the percentage rise of male students. Great news! But more can be done…
Businesses themselves need to take advantage of this surge of female interest; ensuring they hold attractive career opportunities for both genders graduating in STEM subjects. Take a look at the job titles over at Orion. Many of us (I know I did) will take one peek and think “a man will get that exciting subsea engineer role”. Guess what? You’re right. 87% of the jobs on that listing will go to men. So how do you go about tackling an industry when the odds are stacked so glaringly against you?
Outnumbered and under-inspired
The inspiring Engineer Girl showcases a wonderful spectrum of female role models in the under-represented sector, detailing the steps they’ve taken to break into the industry. Solution architect Rainelly Galicia describes the dazzling aspects the job has brought to her life:
“Engineering has helped me to develop the life I dreamed of when I was a girl: learning, travelling, experiencing different cultures, and earning enough to be an independent woman.”
And what’s to say women engineers are confined to sea and land? The space sector is booming, with the government planning a £100 million boost in the UK aerospace sector. Engineering degrees can literally take you to infinity and beyond. It’s all about thinking differently.
If you believe in something and really want to do it, simply keep moving forward: success is sure to come singing and dancing your way. There is no gender bias for dreams.
– Nina Cresswell is Content & Outreach Executive at White Horse Digital.