With International Women in Engineering Day approaching at the start of next month (July 4th), it seems appropriate to consider the women excelling in the construction and civil engineering industries and explore the numerous ways to encourage new students into these fields.
Role models and aspirational figures
At a recent World Futures discussion held at the University of Southampton, attended by the likes of Vice President of the IET Virginia Hodge and 3G pioneer and Arieso founder Shirin Dehghan, a lack of visible role models was discussed as a barrier to women’s involvement in engineering (https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2019/06/international-women-in-engineering-day-2019-inspirational-role-models-critical-to-women-s-success/).
There are currently 20,000 engineering roles unfilled in the UK, and with uncertainty around the flow of workers from EU countries we should be looking to encourage British women into these roles.
Encouragement from a young age
The Women’s Engineering Society, a charity and network of professionals, is heavily involved in encouraging students into the field. By running Student Engineering Groups, they provide a support network for women studying engineering to help them share ideas and facilitate networking among members. It is during the teenage years that students are asked to make crucial decisions about their potential careers and there should also be more support available for 13-18 year olds considering their futures in the industry.
A diversified industry
At the World Futures discussion, Virginia Hodge discussed the need for a diversified workforce in the industry. As previously mentioned, with 20,000 engineering vacancies in the UK there should be an industry-wide push to encourage a wider demographic of people into engineering. Women, members of LGBT+ community, and those from more diverse ethnic background should be encouraged to pursue careers in engineering. The Institute of Engineering and Technology aspires to inform and influence engineers and the public, and Hodge assures that there will be a focus on increased diversity.
Finding the right mentor
While role models are important, it’s just as crucial to have mentors and sponsors within the community to uplift others. Sponsorship is directly enabling and aids both parties, opening lines of communication and opening the door for others to step into the industry. Being able to speak to and work with successful women uplifts other women, thus leading to an increased number of women in the industry. As there are more male business owners/prospective mentors, it can make it more difficult for women to find someone like themselves to relate to.
While problems won’t be solved overnight, the construction and civil engineering industries are showing they can lead the way when it comes to welcoming and encouraging women into careers in the industry. Demonstrating progressiveness and forward-thinking, we hope to see more people in the industry over the years to come.
Lydon Contracting Ltd
Your Total Construction Solution
Tel: 01327 811533