Employers need to reach out to girls aged eleven to inspire them to pursue a career in engineering
Today marks National Women in Engineering Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in the engineering trade.
National Women in Engineering Day (NWED) highlights the importance of women to the industry, but on top of the celebration, the day also aims to raise awareness of some challenges that the industry is facing.
At Bristol University, women make up 18% of engineering students and 45% of science students at the university, but according to the Manufacturing Organisation only a quarter of engineering and science technicians are women.
Fiona Jackson, Head of Strategic Planning at EDF Energy, commented further on the issues, stating that “young women are currently missing out on a wealth of interesting and rewarding career opportunities. As students, many see STEM subjects as limiting to their future careers, when the reality is these courses could lead to a variety of options in a range of sectors.”
BigChoice Group joins NWED to focus attention on the wide-ranging career opportunities available to girls and help inspire an excitement for engineering in future generations of women. In association with Bernard Hodes, we interviewed 160 careers advisors, in which 31% believed that students start to consider their subject and career choices from as early as 7 and year 8, yet nearly half stated their students only receive careers guidance from a minimum of year 9.
Our view is that educating female students on STEM careers needs to start earlier:
- Girls should be encouraged to start considering their future before they start choosing GCSE subjects at secondary school
- Additionally, careers guidance needs to be aligned with when they start to consider their subject and careers choices at age 12/13
- This is important for disadvantaged young women who may not have access to the social/family networks that can lead to certain professions.
The research also found a correlation between employers who are already running school leaver and apprenticeship schemes in response to the school leaving age now being raised to 18, and the increasing numbers of places being offered due to the success of ‘test’ schemes that have been rolled out. With this in mind, more employers should aim to reach out to the youth market earlier in order to raise awareness of women in the industry and instil a passion for increasing the number of women working as engineering technicians.