Guest Blog: The Single Reason Why We Need More Women In Engineering

Wednesday 21 June 2017

The Single Reason Why We Need More Women In Engineering

Riad MannanAs we mark International Women in Engineering Day on Friday 23rd June IET will be hosting a conference to address the challenges of getting more women into a sector in which just 1 in 10 employees are women.

At the #9PercentIsNotEnough Conference and Workshops event in Birmingham: Austin Court, organisations like Jaguar Land Rover, GE, AECOM, Mott MacDonald, Laing O'Rourke, Siemens,  Veolia and others will be sharing their experience and highlighting some of the remaining challenges - and there are plenty.

As I’ve been preparing for the event lots of people have tried to explain to me why we don’t have enough women in engineering and technology. Unconscious bias, not enough applicants, lack of work-life balance and poor image were all touted as possible reasons.

My own view is that if we are not only to have more women in engineering and technology, but more girls interested in STEM subjects, we need to understand why we need them in the first place. What are the drivers for this need?

I would put it down to a single reason: There is a simple economic need for more women in engineering and technology. 

As billions of pounds are poured into engineering projects, companies have to fill roles with skilled professionals to compete and complete these projects. It has become a business imperative to have world class employees and by not having more women in these roles, companies are simply missing out.  

The rest of the solution flows from there. Creating a recruitment strategy aimed at balancing the gender gap; developing a returners programme; working with schools to encourage girls into STEM subjects; using apprenticeship schemes to drive up the number of women in the workforce; developing leaders in engineering who happen to be women – all of these solutions come from that single requirement – the economic reason why we need more women in engineering and technology. It is important that we all get to grips with the issue of not having enough women in engineering and technology - nine percent is certainly not enough.