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QEPrize nominations open with call for more female engineers

Nominations for 2015’s £1m Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering have opened with a fresh call for parents to reappraise engineering as a career for their daughters.

On the day that the judging panel for the QEPrize was unveiled also, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation chairman, Lord Browne of Madingley, called on parents to take a fresh look at engineering, and to encourage their sons and daughters into the profession.

‘From large-scale infrastructure to medical technology, engineers’ achievements transform every aspect of our daily lives,’ Lord Browne said in a statement. ‘Our research shows that parents are reluctant for their daughters to enter the field of engineering, believing that other subjects offer them better opportunities.’

The QEPrize survey found that parents of girls aged between 5 and 18 are still inclined to encourage their daughters to study subjects other than engineering and science, with 73 per cent of parents believing other subjects offer better career opportunities for girls.

In 2103, 4,228 girls applied to read engineering at university, compared to 28,020 boys, which the QEPrize survey indicates could be related to parents’ attitudes towards the discipline.

They say parents continue to assume their daughters are most interested in humanities, with 70 per cent claiming that their daughters are interested in art and nearly 60 per cent saying they are more interested in literature. By contrast, 18 per cent said their daughters are interested in engineering.

While 63 per cent of parents questioned said they talk to their children about TV, only 10 per cent said they ever discussed science and engineering. That figure falls to three per cent in households where no one close to the family works in science or engineering.

‘Engineering is key to helping the country maintain its competitiveness in the global marketplace,’ said Lord Browne. ‘It is absolutely critical that girls and their parents are aware of the opportunities and breadth of experience that a career in engineering can offer.’

‘We need talented, skilled and enthusiastic people to continue our proud tradition as an engineering nation, whatever their background or gender. I want to see today’s men and women become the world-class engineers of tomorrow.’

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a £1m global award which acknowledges and celebrates the engineers responsible for a ground-breaking innovation in engineering that has been of global benefit to humanity.

Launched in 2011, the award’s inaugural winners were Robert Kahn, Vint Cerf and Louis Pouzin, who were recognised for their contributions to the protocols that make up the fundamental architecture of the Internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, for inventing the World Wide Web, and Marc Andreessen, who wrote the Mosaic browser.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Schools need to catch up with the great opportunities for girls in engineering too. Girls only schools do a reasonable job, but mixed schools somehow push girls away from the Maths and Physics that they need and don't seem to know that girls can do engineering - and do it well. Our top summer intern in my company is a girl now with a Cambridge degree and a good job.
    After school science/engineering clubs are another thing that schools can support and which make an enormous difference, but they often have few girls.

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  • This is my husband's comment:
    Typical! All this waffling and flag waiving, its all a waste of effort and time and money. In three girls schools local to me, (one of which my daughters and grand children attended) I offered to take in and give a lecture on our rocket powered car that was built at homes, and designed, built and driven by a female. This was at no cost to the school, to try and encourage more females into engineering and science. Even after personally visiting the schools I got no response. If I were Lizzie I would not like my name on something like this. A disillusioned engineer.

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  • That's an interesting and worrying story. But why does your husband feel that it means this scheme isn't worthwhile?

  • I must have been to one of those rare schools that don't discriminate. We had a gentleman come in and gave a talk on engineering to those that wanted to listen. This was back in 2000 so I can't recall if other girls turned up but I'd have thought so. Anyway, from this talk, I obtained 5 employers looking for students to take up an apprenticeship. I applied to all and ended up with an apprenticeship with a well known company straight from Secondary School.

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  • I am saddened to read the statistics, even if they are slightly better that the 1 in 67 ratio that the one girl [St Andrews 1960!] studying Engineering when I did, enjoyed! [Though she was told by the Dean when expressing a wish to do Civil Engineering, that such was not a job for a lady, pointing her towards Electrical]

    At Coventry Uni in the 90s -the European Business & Technology Course , EBAT [students studied a language, business modules and some technology giving a very rounded graduate] the ratio Girls/boys was about 30/70 -much better but still not enough. I am still in touch with some of my students from there (including one of my daughters-in-law who is a great mum as well!) who made excellent careers in computing and marketing of technical based products.

    But as long as young people see those who prostitute themselves to or in the meeja or Arts?...or manipulate words and figures (man's laws) to the highest payer and benefit of the rich, in-place and powerful: paid and rewarded/recognised at multiples of the rewards of those of us who manipulate Nature's Laws to the benefit of human-kind, little will alter. Why should it. parents or not as guiders, teenagers of either gender are not stupid.

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