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'Cyber sexism' warning over engineering images

Industry promotion body Engineering UK has warned of the damaging effects of “cyber sexism” after research revealed that fewer than half of online images of the profession included women.

Industry body Engineering UK has warned of the damaging effects of “cyber sexism” after research revealed that fewer than half of online images of the profession include women.
During last week’s Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 2015, the organisation urged civils companies to show more female workers in pictures on their websites and other internet outlets.
EngineeringUK, which works to encourage more people into the profession, studied more than 4,000 images on 71 websites. It found that 42% of engineering people pictures depicted women.

Just 26% of image search engine results for the term “engineer” featured women, compared with 85% that showed men.

A similar disparity existed on stock image sites, where 25% of pictures showed female engineers, and 81% male. One in five images studied included a hard hat, with EngineeringUK bemoaning “out-dated opinions that engineering is only about men in hard hats working on building sites”.

Meanwhile a poll of 500, 11 to 16 year olds showed that many were influenced by online imagery of construction.

Three in 10 said the images were not relevant to them, while 28% of girls said the pictures were too male orientated. Seven per cent of the girls polled said images they had seen online had put them off engineering careers.

EngineeringUK chief executive Paul Jackson said: “If a picture is worth a thousand words, it is extremely worrying that cyber sexism is rife when it comes to the depiction of engineers on websites used by young people.

“Engineers shape the world we live in and are behind many of the amazing everyday things we take for granted. Engineering isn’t just about men in hard hats.

“In the next decade, employers will need 1.82M people with engineering skills, meaning we need to double the number of apprentices and graduates entering the industry.

“We cannot afford to lose would-be engineers by carelessly reinforcing stereotypes and not showing the full scope of exciting careers available.

“As part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 2015 we are calling on all organisations to look carefully at how they represent engineering and stop using these out-dated, gender stereotypical pictures.

“We need to inspire, not discourage, young people to consider engineering as their future career.”

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 2015 was intended to inspire young people, their parents and teachers through a host of activities based on the theme Mission Inspiration.

A Mouchel engineer marked the week by writing a song to inspire school children into the civils sector.

Joanna Anderson recorded the song - in partnership with the ICE. The 23-year-old is a traffic signals specialist in Mouchel’s highways design as well as an apprentice to ICE North West chair Gareth Scott. She also teaches guitar and music theory and performs comedy songs in Liverpool.

Anderson said: “It is vital that we do more to promote engineering to boys and girls, challenging the view that a civil engineer is a man, in a hard hat, who spends all day onsite outside.”

  • Watch Anderson’s civil engineering song here

 

At the start of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 2015, the organisation urged civils companies to show more female workers in pictures on their websites and other internet outlets.

EngineeringUK, which works to encourage more people into the profession, studied more than 4,000 images on 71 websites. It found that 42% of engineering people pictures online depicted women.

Just 26% of image search engine results for the term engineer featured women, compared with 85% that showed men.

A similar disparity existed in stock image sites, where 25% of pictures showed female engineers, and 81% male.

EngineeringUK added the fact that one in five images studied included a hard hat reinforced “out-dated opinions that engineering is only about men in hard hats working on building sites”.

Meanwhile a poll of 500 people aged 11-16 showed that many were influenced by online imagery.

Three in 10 said the images were not relevant to them, while 28% of girls said the pictures were too male orientated, and 7% of girls said images they had seen online had put them off a career in engineering.

EngineeringUK chief executive Paul Jackson said: “If a picture is worth a thousand words, it is extremely worrying that cyber sexism is rife when it comes to the depiction of engineers on websites used by young people.

“Engineers shape the world we live in and are behind many of the amazing everyday things we take for granted. Engineering isn’t just about men in hard hats.

“In the next decade employers will need 1.82M people with engineering skills, meaning we need to double the number of apprentices and graduates entering the industry. We cannot afford to lose would-be engineers by carelessly reinforcing stereotypes and not showing the full scope of exciting careers available.

“As part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 2015 we are calling on all organisations to look carefully at how they represent engineering and stop using these out-dated, gender stereotypical pictures. We need to inspire, not discourage, young people to consider engineering as their future career.”

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 2015 is designed to inspire young people, their parents and teachers through a host of activities based on the theme Mission Inspiration.

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