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Tomorrow's Engineers Week 2015 sees women placed at the centre of the discussion

2015-11-03

Tomorrow's Engineers Week calls for employers, organisations and educators across the country to join forces to host engaging activities that showcase real engineers and real engineering. TheBigChoice.com joins the movement to bring the industry alive for young people.


Today marks the beginning of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, an initiative created to inspire the next generation of engineers. Yet the industry faces a difficult challenge in appealing to young women as it is forced to address its image as a career for men only.

A study by EngineeringUK revealed that a number of universities, search engines and media outlets are guilty of ‘Cyber Sexism’ in their reinforcement of the gender stereotypes surrounding its industry. [1]

Analysis of engineering imagery from 70 top websites (including search engines and stock image websites) found:

  • 42% of ‘people pictures’ depicted women 
  • Search engines and stock image sites showed a major gender imbalance in their portrayal of engineering. Only 26% of image searches for ‘Engineer’ returned images featuring women and 25% of stock photos contained women. Men featured in 85% and 81% of images respectively
  • Universities lead the way in portraying gender balance with 53% of images containing a woman and 80% including a man
  • A fifth of all images feature a hard hat. This reinforces the idea that engineering is an industry of men working on building sites and underselling the vast range of sectors available to aspiring engineers [1]

Supporting research also found that a third of 11-16 years olds said images used to represent engineering are not relevant to them.

Thankfully the work to combat engineering’s image problem has already begun from within. After facing online abuse for appearing in a recruitment advert for her company, platform engineer Isis Wenger wrote an essay detailing her experiences with sexism in the industry.

Wenger concluded by inviting other women to spread awareness about ‘tech gender diversity’ using the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. The campaign quickly went viral as women around the world shared pictures of themselves alongside their titles and accomplishments.

With one in five of all UK jobs now in the engineering sector there is a pressing need to modernise the industry’s image and balance gender representation. [1]

You can follow events on twitter as they unfold this week, under the hashtag #TEWeek15.

As part of our continuing support of Tomorrow’s Engineers week TheBigChoice.com will be reporting on the key stories throughout the week, while contributing to the conversation with a number of case studies of people working in engineering.

 

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week Case Studies:

Tracey’s Story: Manufacturing Director at PepsiCo

Ashaan’s Story: 1st Year Advanced Engineering Aprrentice at Royal Mail

Seamus’ Story: Technical Apprentice at Selex

 

 

Reference:

[1] http://www.engineeringuk.com/View/?con_id=544