A leading engineer has urged employers to consider introducing quotas to increase the number of female engineers.
The president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Naomi Climer (pictured) has said that quotas could be one of the measures employers could use to increase diversity in the profession. Currently only one in 10 engineers is female. Before becoming president of the IET, Climer was president of Sony Media Cloud Services.
The IET has been working with professionals’ trade union Prospect to produce recommendations for encouraging women into the sector. These include developing recruitment guidance and promoting and retaining more women in science, technology and engineering roles. It is also working with the government and employers to establish an all-party parliamentary group for women working in these professions.
Climer said: “Despite the best efforts, there has been little progress in attracting more women into engineering over the past few decades, so I feel that the time is right to force action through the use of quotas.
“Diversity is good for the bottom line because mixed teams, whether of race, gender or age are naturally more creative and therefore better able to come up with solutions for the problems engineers face. So, it’s frustrating and disappointing that the sector’s glaring gender disparity has not been fixed.
“If there was just one issue, we would have fixed it by now, but there are just so many little parts that we need to fix. It is everything from the subtle ways that boys and girls are treated differently from birth that lead them in different directions. It’s down to the information that the decision makers they turn to – parents and teachers – have about engineering. There is also the image and perception that many people have of engineering in this country.
“I will be working hard to highlight just how creative, exciting and diverse an engineering career is. It gives you the opportunity to do something life- or world-changing. But there is a big job to do to increase public understanding of the important role engineering plays in our daily lives and get more young people, particularly girls, excited about the possibilities of an engineering career.”
The call comes a year after 29 of the UK’s leading engineering, manufacturing, science and technology firms signed up to a 10 point plan to improve the retention and development of female employees.
The 10 point plan was jointly developed by industry members and partners of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Women into Science and Engineering (WISE) Campaign to give companies a clear and measurable set of objectives to address gender imbalances in the sector, although it did not go as far as suggesting quotas.