Women remain underrepresented in engineering roles across the board, and yet there are huge benefits to increasing diversity in engineering roles. 50 years ago women accounted for just 1% of the engineering workforce. Since then things have improved…but not much. Figures from the Women’s Engineering Society in June last year estimate that only 16.5% of engineers are women.
The opportunity for gender equality in engineering roles varies of course depending on where in the world you live. Some European countries are quite significantly ahead (Lithuania’s engineering workforce is estimated to be 57% female, followed by Norway at 54.7%), though they account for a significantly smaller split of the global market (with little over 100,000 engineering workers, Lithuania’s engineering employment market is 30 times smaller than the UK, where women make up just 40% of 3.5 million engineers).
Why is it important to get more women in engineering?
It’s always important in any industry to look at gender imbalances and question why they occur. It should be a basic truth that everyone deserves equal respect and opportunity to work in any sector they choose, and when one group is underrepresented it becomes harder to open it up to more people from that group.
But from a pure business perspective, greater diversity brings in fresh ideas from different perspectives. In engineering this means creating solutions for issues that a purely male viewpoint can easily overlook. You only have to look in the recent past where safety measures in the automotive industry were exclusively tested with male dummies until 2011, ignoring the 50% of the population with a different body shape who may also be in the vehicles. Or how by the late 90s eight out of ten prescription drugs had to be removed from US markets because they were revealed to cause greater health risks for women - after research trials focused predominately on men.
Women engineers joining the industry also opens the door for future women, providing role models and changing the workplace culture away from the traditional. Greater visibility of diversity within the industry helps to replace stereotypical views of what an engineer should look like or how they should act and encourage a wider subset to want to join. Young girls see women driving engineering innovation in key industries and can feel inspired to learn more and set their goals on the same accomplishments.
And it’s those young people with big dreams who are most needed. STEM Industries from advanced engineering to technology to energy are all growing rapidly and specialists are in huge demand. Not taking steps to inspire a much larger generation of engineers to this workforce could be disastrous for the sector, so it’s more vital than ever to make the changes now that will allow a more balanced, more open engineering job market in the future.
CMC’s commitment to women in engineering
At Coalesce we’re proud to be an employer that commits to diversity & inclusion goals and deliver sustainable, meaningful, action-led change.
When we bring in new consultants we strive to remove any hiring bias that might prevent people of any gender from joining and delviering expert service to our global clients. Women are represented at every level of our business, including our executive board, and we continue to hold ourselves accountable through our annual diversity report.
The sectors we work in also lend themselves well to bringing in more women engineers. Research by the Harvard Business Review earlier this year showed that women were statistically more likely than men to seek out “socially conscious” engineering work - sectors like renewable energy and life sciences.
Our focus as a specialist management consultancy is on pioneering sectors that are changing the world for the better. From energy to advanced engineering, we work with companies that are driving positive change and impacting a vast number of people across the planet. Our own service charter makes a commitment to the wider global community that we will adapt and overcome to deliver positive, sustainable impact.
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With expert consultants of all genders available to support your engineering project, Coalesce Management Consulting can help you manage your team, overcome obstacles and fill in the gaps in your project or operation.
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