It’s no secret that the engineering sector has long been perceived as a traditionally male-dominated landscape. As of 2018 less than 11% of the workforce is female (according to EngineeringUK's The state of engineering report). In light of these findings, the industry is now more committed than ever to addressing this gender imbalance, and determined to encourage more women to take up crucial engineering roles.
We’ve put together a list of five things you can do to encourage and inspire the young women of today to form a passion for engineering, even from a very early age. It’s time to find the female engineers of the future.
1. Become a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Ambassador
We believe the more people championing STEM disciplines and career pathways, the better. Research shows that children’s career aspirations are shaped when they are in primary school. That’s why STEM Ambassadors offer up their time and enthusiasm to bring STEM subjects to life within schools – demonstrating the value of these areas in both life and the workplace. For more information on how you could get involved visit STEM.org.uk and explore their inspiring schemes.
2. Help develop spatial skills during play
Spatial intelligence is the ability to generate, retain, retrieve and transform well-structured visual images. Imagining different perspectives is a crucial skill for any engineer to possess. We usually learn this at a young age and this awareness can even be shaped from the moment we start playing with toys as an infant. Unfortunately, many toys that are marketed towards girls, in particular, do not encourage the development of spatial skills, unlike other more traditionally masculine toys, such as Lego or Meccano. Encouraging girls to play with construction toys like these is undoubtedly the first step in closing the gender gap from an early age. Take GoldieBlox for example – a toy brand especially created to encourage more young girls to take an interest in engineering.
3. Act as a role model
It’s essential for young girls to have successful female engineers to look up to in order to see the positive impact they’re having on the world. Today’s engineers are responsible for creating pioneering technologies that are helping to solve the world’s toughest problems. It’s important for women to not feel intimidated by such roles and responsibilities, but instead feel confident and empowered by the prospect of an engineering career. Publicly celebrating more female inventors, scientists and mathematicians is another crucial step that must be taken in order to inspire more young women to emulate their successes. After all, you can’t be what you can’t see…
4. Change perceptions
It’s not all hard hats and overalls. Over the years the engineering landscape has changed dramatically. A career in STEM can now encompass a range of different skill sets and opportunities – but in essence, engineering is still ultimately about having the ability to build whatever you dream up. It’s a job centred on progress, breakthroughs and curiosity. So the next time you hear somebody say that engineering is all ‘boring science’ – don’t listen. Instead, get out there and get talking to young people about what engineering is really about these days.
5. Become a mentor
Probably the most important contribution of all. One of the biggest challenges we face when it comes to getting more girls to study maths and science at a higher level is self-belief. By becoming a mentor you could harness your experience to guide young women, and provide them with the all-important industry knowledge and support they need to truly thrive in the sector. Keep a look out for companies that offer mentorship programmes and get in touch with them to see how you can get involved – you’ll be surprised at how rewarding the experience can be.
If you or someone you know is looking to get into engineering, the built environment, maritime, mathematics or computing, consider LJMU. We have a range of courses for these skill sets, ranging from computer games technology to microwave research. Whatever your talent or passion, there’s something here for you.
Search our courses today.