Three quarters (75 per cent) of teachers believe girls face additional barriers to pursuing careers in engineering, according to new research released by the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship programme.
The programme is encouraging schools and engineering industry leaders to redouble their efforts to tackle the growing gender gap and increase diversity in the field.
The survey was conducted for the Scholarship’s 30th anniversary to capture the engineering industry’s perspective on its own diversity. By polling teachers, engineering firms and Scholarship participants from across the UK, the programme found 68 per cent of organisations and 77 per cent of Scholarship alumni don’t consider the industry to be diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexuality and disability.
Despite recognising these challenges there was widespread support for empowering future engineers through education, with 87 per cent of engineering organisations agreeing that more could be done to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds consider an engineering career.
“Engineers shape the world we live in. For that reason, it’s essential that people from all backgrounds are participating in that process,” says Dr Kevin P Stenson, CEO of The Smallpeice Trust, the children’s education charity behind the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship.
“Imagine for a moment that until now the engineering industry had been dominated by women or people living with a disability. Our built environment would look radically different.
“That’s why the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship exists. We want to widen access for all young people to consider a career in engineering and give them opportunities to connect with employers and work experiences, that might otherwise be too expensive or difficult to access.” Continued Dr Stenson.
Most employers believe attracting diverse talent can begin in the classroom, as 68 per cent of engineering organisations in the survey agreed that making engineering careers guidance more accessible in schools will improve social mobility.
“The demand for skilled and creative engineers is continuing to grow and we need to start now to build the diverse and thriving workforce that is best equipped to take the industry into the future.
“Through our Scholarship programme, The Smallpeice Trust is proud to have played a role in that. With greater support and engagement from the industry and educators we can do even more. Both women and men of all backgrounds and abilities should have a hand in shaping our future. By opening the door to engineering, we can give them that chance.” says Dr Stenson.
As part of its 30th anniversary, the programme is celebrating the incredible achievements of women past and present in the engineering field. This includes Era Shah, an Arkwright alumna who has recently been recognised as one of the Women’s Engineering Society’s Top 50 Women in Engineering 2021 for her efforts to promote gender equality in the industry.
Applications for the 2023 Arkwright Engineering Scholarship are now open and will close Friday 20th January 2023. For more information about the benefits of the programme and to apply, please visit: https://www.arkwright.org.uk/