Monday, June 4, 2012

Women Under Represented in Engineering Jobs

                 Our annual survey of those using online job boards to find work in the engineering sector is a good snapshot of what's changing in the sector and what's not.

                And sadly one thing that's remained fairly static over the years is the number of women who respond. With the percentage this year standing at 10 per cent, it's obvious engineering is still a very male-dominated profession.

                    Old diehards in the industry might not see this as a potential problem - 'that's just the way things are in engineering' - but by not doing more to encourage women into the profession, aren't we missing a trick that will mean when the economy gets going again and new technologies start to come on stream, there will be a skills gap to fill?

                  It's not as if girls aren't academically good enough in the subjects needed-in fact, they're generally outperforming the boys in what are usually seen as 'masculine' subjects like maths and science.
The truth is they just don't want to.

              Potential reasons abound to explain boys' greater affinity with engineering - a misspent youth fiddling with Meccano, building go-carts out of prams,or cannibalising old bikes - but in reality it's probably girls' self-exclusion from a subject they perceive as nerdy and 'non-caring' that does the damage.

                 Instead, girls tend to head for careers and professions where they feel they can make a difference at a personal level, connect with individuals and provide help where it's needed. The harder-edged business of engineering seems far removed from their people-focused world.

                Given this, if we want to encourage women into engineering, perhaps we should approach things from a slightly different angle, by presenting engineering with a human face - emphasising the ability of engineering to benefit not just one or ten or even a hundred people, but quite literally millions of people.

                 After all, many engineering projects have the capacity to do that, to change continents by building irrigation schemes that bring fertility to previously barren areas, developing sanitation programmes that banish disease from slum areas, creating green technologies that help protect vital habitats, or designing new renewable energy systems.

                In other words, isn't it about time we thought - to use 'marketing speak' - not just about presenting the 'features' of engineering, but about extolling its 'benefits' as a powerful force for good to be navigated through an ever-changing world? This would help create a more people-focused 'face' for the profession that would have far greater appeal to women.

No comments:

Post a Comment