Letter to The Times

Women in Engineering

We read with a sense of déjà vu your article on the continuing lack of women ‎who take engineering degrees in the UK, and want to make a comment on what we are doing as a country about this problem. Until we become comfortable enough to say that we need to do something 'different for girls' we will continue to get the same results that we have been getting for years, with the numbers of women in engineering remaining below 10%. The situation we currently see is reflective of the people who are influenced by the campaigns such as YourLife, that basically reiterate the fact that science and maths equals engineering. This traditional message about what engineering is about has the impact of simultaneously encouraging the students who already know this (often boys) and discouraging girls who aren’t being made aware of the wider appeal of engineering as a world changing profession. Girls often have different motivators to boys and these need to be understood and exploited more effectively if girls are going to be persuaded that engineering is worthy of their interest as a creative, innovative and solution driven profession.  We need to get beyond the point where we refuse to take positive action, and start to realise that this is precisely what we need to do if we want to change the outcomes. The Women's Engineering Society has been campaigning - as a charity - for this for over 95 years, and until we support campaigns which deliver this viewpoint then we will not make any substantial progress. 

Best wishes

Dawn Bonfield CEng, FIMMM, FWES
President, Women's Engineering Society