Women in engineering increasing, new research finds

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Women in engineering make up 16.5 per cent of the engineering workforce according to new research from EngineeringUK, compared to 10.5 per cent in 2010.

women in engineering
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Analysis of trends between 2010 and 2021 showed this six per cent increase, with the number of women working in engineering roles also increasing from 562,000 in 2010 to 936,000 in 2021.

An overall expansion of the engineering workforce from 5.3 million in 2010 to 5.6 million in 2021 was also shown by the research. The increase in the number of women in engineering roles continued to rise even when the total number of people working in engineering fell in 2020 and 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Historically women have been underrepresented in the sector, and the report finds differences by industry. For example, women only made up 12.5 per cent of those working in engineering jobs within the engineering sector, compared to 24.4 per cent outside of the engineering sector.

This suggests that industries not traditionally associated with engineering might be more successful in attracting female engineers into the workforce.

Some roles have seen higher than average increases in female representation, for example the increase from just under 19 per cent to over 28 per cent of women in engineering roles classed as ‘science, engineering and technology associate professionals’.

Dr Hilary Leevers, chief executive of EngineeringUK said: “It’s great to see an increase of women working in engineering roles, particularly for International Women’s Day, with almost 370,000 more women in those roles in 2021 compared with in 2010.

The fact that only 16.5 per cent of those working in engineering are women should still be a ‘major concern’ to the sector however, Leevers said.

“We hope that our analysis stimulates more exploration of how we can do better – why are women more likely to work in engineering outside of the engineering sector than in it? What changes have happened in some areas of engineering to make them more attractive to women? What can we do to bring more female engineers back into engineering?”

“Engineering businesses and organisations recognise these needs and are working together more effectively to learn how to improve our efforts. I am optimistic that by learning and working together, we can quicken the pace of change and achieve the diverse and insightful workforce needed for the UK to thrive.”