Comment: We are still a far cry from gender parity

Ahead of International Women in Engineering Day, Perega’s Eleana Savvidi and Monika Rogers discuss the state of play for female professionals in the structural engineering sector.

Data available for the structural engineering profession is scarce and unclear
Data available for the structural engineering profession is scarce and unclear - AdobeStock

There’s no doubt progress has been made, with the number of female engineers in the UK modestly increasing since I entered the profession in 2013, says Eleana Savvidi, Associate, Perega, a civil and structural engineering consultancy. However, the devil’s in the details.

While official statistics suggest the percentage of women in engineering is higher than it was years ago, according to Engineering UK, it has fallen from 16.5 per cent in 2022 to 15.7 per cent in 2023[1], a drop of 38,000 women. What’s more, the long-term increase doesn’t represent all engineering and certainly doesn’t appear to be the case for civil and structural engineers.

The data available for the structural engineering profession is scarce and unclear, and whilst available stats imply similar numbers of men and women obtain university degrees and enter the engineering workforce, few of the latter stay long-term. In fact, women are leaving the sector twice as quickly as men[2].

Furthermore, the percentage of chartered structural engineers who are women is still in the single digits, and the professional community remains heavily male-dominated; so we’re still a far cry from gender parity. The most recently publicised numbers don’t reflect this, and as a result, we risk fostering the false perception that the job is being done and equity has been achieved.

Even looking at the optimistic trends about engineering overall, according to Engineering UK, “if the proportion of women in engineering continues to increase at its current rate, there will not be gender equality until after 2050”. This isn’t good enough.

This is where professional bodies like the IStructE and ICE can play an active role, by gathering, and publicising, more data on their membership. With a clearer view of the bigger picture, we can really raise awareness of the problem’s scale and will be better placed to develop a strategy to confront it. In an age where data is the new oil, having an accurate insight into the state of play will ultimately empower us to rectify this persistent imbalance.”


With ongoing planned large infrastructure projects and other planned building schemes straining the already stretched workforce, attracting and retaining more women in engineering will offer a means to tackle the burgeoning skills shortage, adds Monika Rogers, Senior Structural Engineer. If it invests in the futures of talented women, the engineering community will have access to a more diverse and versatile workforce, bringing both numbers and innovation to the sector.

The journey starts with creating more opportunities for and attracting young people, establishing routes into the industry like apprenticeships and educating them about the breadth of exciting career paths. With an inspired younger generation of women, we can build a robust talent pipeline to sustain the sector in decades to come. Further down the funnel, companies need to look at their hiring processes and establish concrete goals to increase diversity, actually committing to change. Finally, it’s critical the glass ceiling that leads so many to lose confidence in the sector is smashed, and that businesses credit and give those who deserve it the chance to progress further in their careers.  

Let’s not just talk about change, let’s make it happen, and ensure the world continues to be enhanced by engineering.


[2] per cent20Deflection.pdf

Visit our jobs site to find out about some of the latest career opportunities at industry's biggest employers