Engineering offers many rewarding jobs and careers with ever greater opportunities from improving technology and innovation. Why is it then that the UK has the lowest percentage of professional female engineers in Europe?
The statistics are interesting:
- In 2018, just 12.37 percent of UK engineers were women (although, the number has been increasing year on year).
- Women who study engineering at degree level, on average, achieve higher results than their male counterparts.
- Female engineering graduates find work more quickly than graduates in other disciplines.
What’s putting women off engineering?
Even in these gender-enlightened times, engineering is still seen as being traditionally male. There may be the view that being an engineer means wearing a hard hat and working in dirty environments. In the modern world, a lot of the industry is digital or involves computers. Maybe people perceive you need to be good at maths? Maybe it’s that women don’t feel they can be a trailblazer, setting themselves up to be a role model for other women?
These are mainly psychological barriers to entry. In fact, there are fantastic support networks to entice more women into the field. Many universities offer support and promotion of engineering courses. Also, proactive businesses advertise their desire to employ more women and provide schemes for encouragement.
There are a wide variety of areas to pursue in engineering. One way to find help in entering the right sector is through engineering recruitment. Here are some of the sectors you might consider when choosing to follow this career.
Food and Drink
The massive food industry includes production, packaging, taste, nutrition, and environmental concerns. With a love of food and an interest in nutrition, being a food technologist offers an interesting and rewarding career. There are various routes into food engineering depending on the area you want to work in:
- A nutrition degree can lead to food/recipe and flavour development.
- A science or chemical degree is a good start to a career in food production.
- Qualifications in mechanical engineering or design are a good fit for packaging.
With the debate raging about climate change, environmental engineering is fast-paced and embraces innovation and development. If you aspire to make the world more environmentally-friendly, qualifications or experience in many engineering disciplines can help you enter the world of environmental engineering.
You might look at a degree in civil, mechanical, automotive, chemical, and aeronautical engineering to start your career. Jobs can range from huge projects such as building a new wind farm to designing features for a new electric car.
Medical and Pharmaceutical Engineering
You might care about people and their health but don’t want to enter nursing or pursue a medical degree to be a doctor. So, an interesting career could be in medical or pharmaceutical engineering. Working in these spheres means working on products, processes, drugs, and devices that directly improve people’s lives.
Related to but not the same as medical and pharmaceutical engineering, working as a bio technician generally involves you in research and development. If you have an interest in biological systems, being a bio technician enables you to identify causes and find solutions.
Areas of work range from producing additives and supplements for the food industry to trying to find a cure for a disease.
The best route of entry is a related degree – biology or biotechnology – but there are entry-level apprenticeships too.
Automation and Robotics
Careers in automation and robotics crop up in many industries. Multi-disciplined, highly innovative and fast-moving, robotics is a blend of mechanics, electricals, hardware, and software. You might choose the design side or any of the jobs involving the movement and function of robots.
The industry scope is widening all the time. Robots are traditionally associated with the automotive or repetitive manufacturing industries, but are now found in medicine, the emergency services, education, and the military. Jobs are available to suit those with practical skills as well as those with a love of theory.
This is just a sample of the kind of engineering jobs that exist. If you have a career path in mind, following a relevant degree will give you an advantage. However, unrelated degrees are still useful as are NVQs in engineering and relevant or transferable experience.
Don’t let being a woman put you off choosing engineering. Talk to your career advisor at school or university or look for jobs on specialist recruitment sites.
Thanks for this post go to our friend Leanne White, a freelance writer.