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Girls less likely than boys to think they could be engineers

11 July 2018

Research released in the EngineeringUK briefing 'Gender disparity in engineering', shows only 60% of girls think they could become an engineer if they want to.

This drops to 53% in the 16 to 19 age range, where only a quarter of girls say they would ever consider a career in engineering.

The briefing examines female underrepresentation in an industry where women make up just 12% of the workforce. This disparity is largely due to girls dropping out of the educational pipeline at every decision point, despite generally performing better than boys in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects at school.

Evidence shows gender differences in understanding of and interest in engineering as well as perceptions of self-efficacy and identity are likely to be key factors when making subject and career choices. Girls are not only less knowledgeable about engineering and how to become an engineer, but also less likely to seek careers advice from others.

EngineeringUK CEO, Mark Titterington, said: ‘The gender imbalance in engineering means we are missing out on great talent which, given the shortfalls that our latest research highlights, it can ill afford to do.  Equally, women are also generally missing out on really exciting and impactful careers in engineering and contributing solutions to some of society’s biggest challenges. This needs to change and for that to happen we need to do more to show girls, at the earliest age possible, what modern engineering is all about and how they can follow what they love through these kind of careers.

We know that participating in hands-on activities and speaking to an engineer have a positive impact on young people’s knowledge of engineering jobs and that is particularly true for girls. We want to build on that with sustained outreach and engagement activity, together with supporting communications campaigns such as This is Engineering, to inspire the next generation of girls to become engineers.’

'Gender disparity in engineering' builds on the data and analysis contained within the Engineering UK 2018 State of Engineering report and gives an overview of female progression along the STEM skills pipeline through education as well as women in the engineering workforce. It examines the underlying reasons for female underrepresentation and looks at both the business case for and the barriers to getting more women in the industry.

The 'Gender disparity in engineering' briefing, which contains inputs from Cummins, UCL and the Royal Academy of Engineering, is available from 
www.engineeringuk.com/gender.


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