More action needed to boost number of women engineering academics

Paul Boughton

Universities must do more to retain women in scientific careers, according to a new report publishe. The UK's House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee Report on Women in Scientific Careers makes recommendations to attract and retain more female STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) academics.

The UK needs to recruit hundreds of thousands of engineers over the next few years, which will require talented engineering academics both to equip these engineers with the right skills but also to conduct important research and development activities. The quota of women engineers and women engineering academics remains alarmingly low.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Director, Michelle Richmond, said: “The report highlights the gulf between senior female professors and their male counterparts. Figures from Engineering UK show that Engineering and Technology has the worst gender diversity of all disciplines with just 17.2 per cent of female academics – a truly shocking statistic.

“It is important to support women throughout academic life and both employers and institutions can play a key role in this.

“Confidence and recognition are also key motivators for women, which is why the IET highlights the achievements of women in engineering through its popular Young Women Engineer of the Year Awards and IET Women’s Network events and workshops to develop skills.

“Academia must be proactive too, especially in marketing their jobs to women. The best practice employers show creative ways of reaching out to women in terms of job adverts and flexible working patterns, and the results have been very positive but much more needs to be done to reverse this huge gender disparity.

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