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International Women in Engineering Day 2017

23 June 2017

With the skills gap and the need for a more diverse workforce, it’s never been more important to inspire people, especially women, to choose a career in engineering.

International Women in Engineering Day 2017

Set up in 2014 to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the Women’s Engineering Society this national, now international, awareness day focuses attention on the amazing careers in engineering and technical roles for girls, and allows us to celebrate the achievements of our outstanding women engineers. 

The campaign was so successful in 2015 that it won three awards including the WISE Campaign Award, The Association Award for Best Social Media Campaign, and also contributed to the SEMTA Award for Diversity in Engineering. 

In 2016 the day had a hugely positive impact with over 550 separate events being held on the day (including school events), over 350 schools across the UK involved in NWED celebrations, and over 1,500 downloads of the resource pack from the NWED website. The campaign reached over 1 million people on social media via a ‘Thunderclap’ campaign on Twitter, the official hashtag #nwed2016 receiving over 15,000 posts on the day which saw the hashtag trending for around 8 hours on Twitter, second only to EU referendum-related posts. UNESCO patronage endorsed NWED 2016 worldwide and obtaining patronage for 2017 is in the works.  

NWED 2016 was reported in over 150 national and local newspapers and online articles in the UK and internationally. BBC and Sky News covered the day in their evening news slots, and BBC Woman's Hour also featured women in engineering, along with a number of radio shows.

Kirsten Bodley, Interim CEO of Women's Engineering Society says: "We're really pleased to have so much support for International Women in Engineering Day this year and aim to increase our reach to a wider audience with our theme of 'Men as Allies'; raising the profile of the opportunities available to women in engineering.  We're also delighted to be working with The Daily Telegraph to announce the Top 50 Women in Engineering under 35 as part of the INWED17 celebrations on 23 June."

Tanuja Randery, Zone President UK & Ireland, Schneider Electric comments:

“In the UK, women are under-represented in many different areas, particularly in the engineering and technology industries, which have historically been considered the domain of men. Yet businesses are missing a big opportunity. According to research from McKinsey, bridging the UK gender gap in work has the potential to create an extra £150 billion by 2025.

“What’s more, STEM is the industry with the poorest representation of women in the UK. As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, these disciplines hold the key to powering UK prosperity, but this is under threat unless we supply talent – and fast. It’s long been known that STEM has an image problem. There is a false perception of careers in engineering – it’s seen as too geeky or that the average engineer or technician wears grubby overalls and sports a hard hat. There’s a need to rebrand and improve young women’s understanding of engineering and its related industries to encourage the uptake of careers in the field.

“Industry leaders need to take on the role of STEM ambassadors at schools and universities. In our businesses, we need to change our policies, job descriptions and address unconscious bias. If you want to inspire a diverse group to come and work for you, you need to support and promote role models that tomorrow’s leaders looking into the organisation can relate to.

“There’s an argument for implementing quotas within engineering businesses. We have targets for everything in our lives, from our home budgets to wanting to become a CEO in 20 years, and from sales to employee engagement. Why not put quotas in place for female representation within specific fields? We’ve done this at Schneider Electric and we’re on track to achieving a goal of increasing female representation by 40 percent in new recruitments and 30 percent in key positions by 2017, when women should account for a third of Executive Committee seats.

“We must inspire young people about the diverse and rewarding career potential that an engineering-based career path offers. Working in STEM means you can help tackle some of the world’s greatest problems. At Schneider Electric, we believe access to energy is a basic human right and that is something we are working hard towards achieving at a global level.”

The Royal Academy of Engineering has launched a new video, ‘Women in engineering: let’s change the world’, as part of its sponsorship of the very first International Women in Engineering Day (INWED), under the patronage of UNESCO

The new video profiles five inspiring women engineers from Mozambique, Uganda, Palestine, Germany and the UK. All five role models have been actively involved with the Academy through its International, Queen Elizabeth Prize, Enterprise Hub and other activities and have a fascinating story to tell about their different routes into STEM. The video also highlights the important role both men and women can play as allies to help improve diversity and inclusion in the profession.

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