Changing the shape of a male dominated industry

A recent report delivered by the BBC suggests that women make up less than a quarter of the UK workforce in engineering, medicine, science, and technology. The insightful report explains the role of women in these sectors and what needs to be done to improve the situation.

Women in engineering

Dr. Nazeri, a director at Novo Nordisk, a global pharmaceutical company explains that when she grew up she was told that as an Iranian girl and succeed she would have to work significantly harder due to being a girl and a foreigner in another country. Nazeri explains there is a notable lack of women in science, in particular at higher levels and that we, collectively need to champion and promote the success of women in these particular industries. Nazeri believes this process can develop with women doing more to enhance the talent pool by promoting and spreading the message that engineering and science is an interesting, creative and good career option.

Nazeri explains that girls do get involved in engineering and science, and excel in these industries but seem to not continue on to a higher level. NovoNordisk consists of a network of professional women in science at various levels of the business. Nazeri explains that as her career developed, she received additional support from several managers who really boosted her beliefs and aspirations. She believes that young people need this support and to hear the success stories to encourage them into a career in engineering and science.

The BBC report goes on to explain the positive work that is developing at one particular university at the University of Southern California (USC) which is encouraging more women to study engineering. This year, over 40% of engineering students entering the university were women. The university has emphasised that fundamental changes need to be made towards the stereotypes within the engineering and science industries. One of the solutions identified by the university is transforming the perceptions of engineering as being a somewhat ‘dry’ and ‘nerdy’ profession to a career that has significant impacts and benefits to our society.

The University believes that engaging more women in engineering is critical in a world where new technologies such as AI and Quantum computing are developing and becoming more important in the sector. To ensure the industry remains competitive, a nation needs to engage all of its available resources.

The report goes on to analyse the current situation for apprenticeships and women entering the engineering sector. Helen Brindley, an engineering apprentice working at Siemens explains her experience. Siemens has developed a target to include 20% female apprentices by 2020, a significant increase from 8% for UK female engineers.

Brindley explains that her previous knowledge of the engineering industry involved pursuing a degree through college or university. She believes the interest in apprenticeships is growing but needs to be promoted further in school, particularly to students who aren’t involved in engineering. As a first-year apprentice, Brindley was one of only four women in a class of twenty.

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