Lola has launched a national competition aimed at encouraging young women to pursue further education and careers in science, design and engineering.
The contest, open to all women under the age of 25, will be officially launched at the end of January and run throughout Spring 2012.
According to Lola, entrants will be required to produce an original design for a product that is compatible across the company’s portfolio of technologies in aerospace, defence, communications, renewables, motorsport and automotive industries.
A panel of expert judges will assess every entry and narrow the field down to a shortlist of 10, culminating in an awards ceremony attended by leading British engineers and government ministers.
The winner, who will have demonstrated an outstanding ability, imagination and passion for engineering, will receive a cheque, a trophy and the opportunity to develop and test their winning design at Lola’s facilities in Huntingdon.
Lola said in a statement that it launched this competition due to the lack of female engineers, which remains a barrier to tackling skills shortages in the wider UK manufacturing sector.
Poor take-up and retention rates for further education engineering courses is cause for concern, but none more so than the fact that the UK is ranked worst in Europe for the number of female engineering professionals.
Today, only 13 per cent of engineering graduates are women in the UK, with that figure falling to nine per cent when entering the workforce, compared to 18 per cent in Spain, 20 per cent in Italy and 26 per cent in Sweden.
The reason often presented for this decline is that many young women do not consider engineering as an interesting and well-paid career.
Lola believes its competition will help to reverse this preconception and demonstrate that Britain has a wealth of young female engineers.
Martin Birrane, owner of Lola Group, said: ‘Lola is determined to support the discovery of Britain’s brightest female engineering talent and inspire young people to pursue their passions in science, design and engineering.
‘The under-representation of women in these sectors provides a threat to the UK’s global competitiveness.
‘This competition provides the opportunity for exceptional young women to get noticed for all the right reasons and we are anticipating exciting and pioneering designs to be entered by young women from around the country.’