QEPrize nominations open with call for more female engineers

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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.