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by Jeanette McLean

Where are all the women?

While industries such as engineering, software and construction are crying out for skilled workers, why are women continually underrepresented, unsupported and uninspired?

It’s been over 100 years since the first women in the UK won the right to vote; but since this historic moment, progress for equality still has a way to go.

So what’s the current situation? Well, the statistics don’t look good.  According to ‘Engineering UK’, 12.37% of all engineers in the UK are women and in October 2018, the Office for National Statistics published data on the gender pay gap in the UK which showed that in skilled trade occupations, there is a massive 23.9% difference in pay between male and female employees. The data continued to show that within construction and building trade supervisor roles, there is a whopping 41.2% pay difference between male and female employees, with men earning on average £16.24 per hour compared to their female colleagues, who earn on average £9.55 per hour. (Gender pay gap in the UK)

We have a problem.  Is it that women are being put off by damaging industry stereotypes?  Or that there is not enough female representation in engineering, technology and construction to interest and inspire those who are generally not aware of the diverse range of fields within these sectors?

As it stands, the UK is not a shining example for equality in the workplace and it sometimes it seems like there is still quite a way forward until everyone can stand on a level playing field.  So what can we do about it?

Visibility and exposure is key and Ailie MacAdam, Senior Vice President and Operations Manager at Bechtel Infrastructure, would agree. In an article for ‘The Engineer’, Allie explains her thoughts on how we would see a bigger intake of women in engineering fields if there was more insight into the breadth of engineering and how much it impacts people’s everyday lives. (Female focus: why Britain needs more women in engineering)

Perhaps by bringing women, students and professionals together at events, such as panels and workshops or by encouraging women from a young age to enquire about the workings of the modern day world, we may see an influx of women who are passionate about technology, construction and engineering.

Written by Georgia Godden BEng.