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It’s International Women in Engineering Day Today

Which is a great opportunity to celebrate women in engineering, and at the same time, look closer at why women in manufacturing are still underrepresented in engineering roles.

Despite 48% of women participating in the labour market:

  •  Women only represent 28% of manufacturing workforce
  •  Occupational segregation means women make up only 12% of skilled technical jobs and only 8% take up of the professional roles such as a Charted Engineer
  •  Only 15% of women take the middle management roles while ILO figures say globally all managerial roles are at 27%
  •  Only 11% of women on average fill executive director roles
  •  Only 8% of women take up apprenticeships in manufacturing
  •  And 39% of the admin and clerical jobs go to women

These numbers speak rather loudly that we have still a lot of work ahead of us.

We explore many of these topics in our new report Manufacturing our recovery through inclusion, encouraging manufacturers to build diverse, inclusive and equal workplaces, representative of our communities.

This includes the education system, encouraging more girls into STEM subject, vocational training as well as university engineering programmes. We have made some progress with the number of women entering full-time undergraduate courses taking STEM subjects increasing from 34% to 41%. In addition, there has been a 31% increase in entries from women and girls to STEM A-levels between 2010 and 2019. The next step is translating this into labour market and job roles.

But through this work we must remember to take an intersectional approach.  Women make up 50% of our population and among them there are disabled women, women from ethnic minorities, and those that identify as a woman, to name a few.

That’s why we are campaigning for to create inclusive workplaces for all.

·       Make flexible arrangements around parental leave, in work training and progression

·       Drive the right culture change

·       Ensure diversity where business decisions are made

Laura McBrown, MD of G&B Electronics shared how she has created change within her business where the majority of workforce was male, with average age of 50-years-old. Alongside the HR Director, they set about to change the existing culture of and establish a place of work where everyone felt they belonged and could voice their opinions. But the change had to be done carefully, with listening to their employees, always. After six years as an MD, they have a more balanced workforce with women make up around half of the company’s positions including senior management and key roles. The average age of their workforce is already falling, and the leadership and development skills programme has been helpful in encouraging employees to be more vocal about their ideas.

There is overwhelming evidence that diverse, inclusive, and equal businesses work better.

New digital technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoTs), robots and cobots, are transforming the world of production, enabling more efficient processes, and generating added value not just for industry but for our local communities and the environment. We are also moving towards a green revolution, as our transition to a more sustainable economy takes pace and the sector finds itself optimising efforts to become more energy efficient and sustainable. This transformation will need more high skilled employees that can respond to these opportunities and challenges. That’s why it is crucial we widen the talent pool.

We want manufacturers to commit to embrace the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategies as a key component of their business strategies. To support this, we have created a set of guiding principles and actions that manufacturing companies can adopt when they are ready to take their first steps.

This is a marathon and we have made a great progress to date, but the race continues.

Blog / Make UK