International Women’s Day (IWD) is being used to launch a year long campaign to build a gender-balanced world and a number of engineering businesses are supporting the #BetterForBalance initiative.
IWD, which started in 1911, is aiming to raise awareness of the benefits and barriers to achieving gender balance in the workplace through the 2019 campaign.
In a stamen, IWD said: “Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”
Engineering businesses supporting the initiative have said that it is not just about gender balance but looking at how encouraging more women into engineering can help address the skills crisis.
Training specialist Develop Training has said that attracting more women into construction and engineering must become a higher priority for government and employers. In a statement, Develop Training said: “Redressing the gender imbalance is not just desirable from an ideological viewpoint but also a means of helping to tackle the chronic skills shortage afflicting the industry. Two thirds of employers say a shortage of engineers is a threat to their business.”
Develop Training director John Kerr said: “The industries we serve are among the most male-dominated in the country. Only 9% of the UK’s engineering workforce is female, and we have the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe.”
He said the challenges included improving the way construction and engineering were portrayed in schools, encouraging girls and young women to study engineering-related subjects and changing perceptions of working in the industry.
“In many ways, the obstacles to bringing more women into the sector are the same as we face in attracting young people,” said Kerr. “The industry offers well-paid, secure and skilled work with great career prospects, but it still encounters prejudiced ideas of dirty manual labour. There are a number of excellent initiatives to attract women into engineering and construction, and some great role models, and we hope that broader changes in society will also play a part in breaking down barriers.”