Women engineers still a minority despite targets

Targeted recruitment campaigns to encourage more women into engineering are failing to attract sufficient female job-seekers, a survey by engineering software firm Cambridge Control has found. Seven out of 10 engineering companies have fewer than 25% women in their workforce. Among the women engineers surveyed, 85% believe there is a shortage of females in the […]

Targeted recruitment campaigns to encourage more women into engineering are failing to attract sufficient female job-seekers, a survey by engineering software firm Cambridge Control has found.

Seven out of 10 engineering companies have fewer than 25% women in their workforce.

Among the women engineers surveyed, 85% believe there is a shortage of females in the workplace. The survey found that 60% of women engineers consider engineering to be male dominated.

Cambridge Control commissioned the survey when it noticed that few of the applicants for positions within the company were women. `We wanted to see what the main reasons behind this inequality were,’ said Sham Ahmed, managing director of the company.

Education and the attitude of teachers towards industry are to blame, according to the survey. The women questioned blamed this on the lack of encouragement given to girls at schools and the hostile attitude of their teachers towards industry.

`We know that there is a problem all over Britain in interesting girls in maths, science and technology,’ said Marie-Noaelle Barton, manager of the Women Into Science and Engineering (Wise) campaign.

`But the issue is more complex than the attitudes of teachers. Girls lack role models in engineering, and parents have stereotypes which must be overcome.

`If parents give their girls Lego as well as dolls, that’s alright. However, if they say that dolls are for girls and Lego is for boys that creates difficulties.’

Despite this, Barton claims that progress is being made. `When we launched Wise in 1984 only 7% of those studying engineering were women; now it’s 14%.

`Of all areas, chemical engineering is seeing the best progress, where around 25% of those studying are women,’ she said.

* Women in the UK earn 34% less on average than their male colleagues, according to research by the European Trade Union Confederation. Britain’s hourly pay gap is the widest in Europe, where the average wages gap is 27.5%.

The ETUC found that the pay differential widens with seniority and is independent of the size of companies.

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