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Celebrate female engineers on International Women’s Day 2017

08 March 2017

To mark International Women’s Day, the IET launched the call for entries for its 2017 Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards (YWE), which celebrate their 40th anniversary.

The Awards identify and celebrate the best female engineering talent and demonstrate to young women and girls across the UK that engineering is a creative, diverse and exciting career. Winners become an all-important role model to help inspire more girls to become engineers.

Recognising and showcasing outstanding female engineers has never been so important. Statistics from the most recent IET Skills and Demand in Industry survey show that women represent only 9 percent of the engineering workforce in the UK.

To help inspire the next generation of women engineers and to raise awareness of the Awards, the IET’s social media campaign #9PercentIsNotEnough has been encouraging engineers to share a picture with their hand raised to the fact that there are so few female engineers – and to also highlight that engineering is a realistic and inspiring career for girls.

The campaign has already captured the imagination of both female and male engineers (and non-engineers) across different disciplines and generations, as well as politicians and TV personalities.

President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Jeremy Watson CBE, said: “Women are woefully underrepresented in engineering. In a profession with a serious skills shortage, this represents a problem for the economy as well as for diversity.

“So to coincide with International Women’s Day, we want to make it clear that engineering is a fantastic career for women. Not only that – but there are thousands of female engineers doing amazing things that are changing our world.

“The Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards celebrate our best female engineering talent and finds those all-important engineering role models to inspire more girls – and boys – to go into engineering.”

Current IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year, Jenni Sidey, added: “The IET’s efforts in diversity in the field are not just good for the profession but a necessity for the UK to be a competitive innovator and global technological leader.”

Tanuja Randery, businesswoman, leader and zone president UK & Ireland of technology and engineering company Schneider Electric, offers her views on why businesses should have gender diversity strategies in place.  

“Today, businesses are faced with an ever changing, and increasingly complex landscape that requires fresh thinking and innovative new approaches. Businesses who make diversity a priority will be one step ahead as they draw on a diverse range of talents, cultures and ideas.

“Diversity is a broad topic, but a good place to start is gender. In the UK, women are under-represented in many different areas, particularly in the technology and engineering industries which have historically been considered “a man’s world”. The greatest progress will be made when men and women work together to promote women’s empowerment and drive gender equality at all levels of the business. First, ensure that women are equally considered in the recruiting process, by setting targets and holding recruiters accountable to those too. At Schneider Electric, we’ve set ourselves a stretch target that 40 percent of all new recruits will be women this year, and we’re pushing our partners in the search firms to ensure we have a good selection of candidates. 

“Next, it’s important to stop the leaky pipe and avoid talented, experienced women dropping out of the workforce part-way through their careers with no clear path to return. There are many ways to address this such as flexible working arrangements, work-sharing or even “returner” programs such as those we’ve seen run by O2 to welcome senior women back into the workplace. Having a structured talent nurturing program, including gender targets for internal promotions, is another important part of ensuring the gender gap doesn’t widen at the senior level.

“Finally, it’s important to continue the momentum by promoting gender and diversity initiatives. Our CEO, Jean-Pascal Tricoire is an outspoken supporter of gender equality and has led us in setting goals and defining our commitment to change. We also actively create change management campaigns, such as supporting HeForShe, the gender equality solidarity movement by UN Women. With this commitment, we’re part of an ongoing movement that exists across every industry – not just technology and engineering.

“Promoting an inclusive policy and achieving gender balance is not just the right thing to do, it’s good for business too. There is clear evidence that companies with women in their executive committee are more successful. A diversity and inclusion strategy is no longer a “nice to have”, it’s a critical objective for UK businesses, impacting both their ability to attract and retain talent, and their bottom line.”

Visit the International Women’s Day website for great ways to get involved.

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