Student and Graduate Publishing

The Need for Female Engineers

Friday, 25 October 2013 11:26

Mediaplanet, the leading international publishing house, released a 12 page special interest report Women in Engineering within The Guardian newspaper.

The report aimed to address the gender divide in what has traditionally been an extremely male dominated industry, and one that is in desperate need of greater gender diversity. With insight from leading associations working to eradicate this problem, such as the Engineering Council, the UKRC and WISE, the Women’s Engineering Society and the IET, the report draws on the experience of those in the industry and explores why there is such a vital need for more female engineers.

The need to adapt
Helen Woolaston, Director of the UKRC suggests that there is a problem attracting women into the industry after graduation – whilst women make up 17 per cent of engineering students, they make up only 6 per cent of professional engineers. Outdated stereotypes and inflexible working environments are seen as some of the most important factors deterring women from a career in engineering, and Wollaston suggests that engineering firms need to adapt in order to attract the best talent, and many are currently making positive steps to ensure this.

Role models
Within the report, Mediaplanet talk to a number of inspirational women, all pursuing careers in engineering – and loving it! Kate Cooksey, a senior tunnel design engineer at Morgan Sindall loves the variety she gets from her job. ‘Every day is different with new challenges’ she says. Kalpana Gosai, a chartered engineer at Jaguar Land Rover explains how her love of science and engineering was inspired by watching science-based TV shows as a child, and ultimately led to her pursuing a career in engineering. ‘Working in research and development allows me to be creative and inventive,’ she says. Jenny Body, a retired aerospace engineer and the first female President elect of the Royal Aeronautical Society looks back on her career with fondness and says that being a women can actually work in your favour and help you to stand out from the crowd.

Starting out
The report explores the various routes into engineering, from graduate opportunities to apprenticeships, and the benefits of both. Cassie Leicester, a mechanical engineer at Rolls-Royce completed her 3-and-a-half year apprenticeship last year and was named Rolls-Royce Global Apprentice of the Year. She says the apprenticeship route was definitely right for her. ‘It offered the best of both worlds. I could learn on the job and get qualifications while being paid.’

A career for life
Women pursuing careers in engineering can come across challenges when thinking about taking a break to have children, and it is important to know that there is support out there. Mediaplanet talk to Rebecca Ward who enjoyed a successful 12-year career at Atkins before taking a 9-year career break to have children. After such a long time out of action she remembers the difficulty in getting back into the industry. ‘You can lose yourself when you do the school run every day and I definitely needed a confidence boost.’ The Daphne Jackson Trust offered Ward a two-year part-time, flexible and paid fellowship, which helped her get back into the industry and regain her confidence.

Industry recognition
The IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award highlights the talented young women working in the field, and prior to this years awards on 6th December 2012, Mediaplanet talk to five of the finalists about their experience in engineering, and what they face on a day-to-day basis.

The Mediaplanet report aimed to raise the important issue of gender balance in engineering, and showcase some of the interesting roles and experiences that can be gained from a career in the ever-evolving, exciting and creative industry.

The full Women in Engineering report is available online, visit