The analysis covering 2010 through to 2021 shows a 6% increase in the proportion of women in the engineering workforce, with the actual number of women working in engineering roles increasing from 562,000 in 2010 to 936,000 in 2021. That increase comes at the same time as an overall expansion in the engineering workforce, up from 5.3 million in 2010 to 5.6 million in 2021.
According to the research, the increase in the number of women in engineering roles continued to rise even when the total number of people working in engineering fell in 2020 and 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Historically women have been underrepresented in engineering and this research has found differences by industry and by sector. For example, women make up only 12.5% of those working in engineering jobs within the engineering sector, compared to 24.4% outside of the engineering sector. This suggests that industries not traditionally associated with engineering might be more successful in attracting female engineers into the workforce.
Some engineering roles have seen higher than average increases in female representation, for example, the increase from just under 19% to over 28% of women in engineering roles classed as ‘science, engineering and technology associate professionals’.
Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, said: “It’s great to see an increase of women working in engineering roles, particularly for International Women’s Day, with almost 370,000 more women in those roles in 2021 compared with in 2010.”
However, as Dr Leevers highlighted only 16.5% of those working in engineering are women and that should be a major concern for the engineering sector.
Dr Leevers said that she hoped the analysis would stimulate more exploration of how we can do better and why women were more likely to work in engineering outside of the engineering sector than in it?
Why isn’t engineering seen as a suitable career choice for women? How do we attract the next generation of young women and how should the industry best respond to the needs of women who have left the engineering workforce and actively bring them back?
Sadly, while the increase in women entering the industry should be welcomed how many more years will it take for the engineering sector to see parity between men and women in a sector crying out for talent.
Yes, learning and working together will quicken the pace but it’s still taking far too long to deliver the diverse and insightful workforce that the UK needs.