The ICE and its members are showcasing civil engineering as a career for women this week, marking National Women in Engineering Day 2015 on 23 June.
Women account for 10% of ICE’s membership and female applications to the ICE are slowly rising, with graduate numbers at 18%. But the UK still has the lowest percentage of women engineers in Europe, at less than 10% across all disciplines. Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus lead with nearly 30%.
A range of activities are taking place to inspire young women and help industry tackle the barriers to attracting and retaining more women.
ICE West Midlands is holding an event in Birmingham to discuss whether special measures are needed to help more women succeed. Schools activities took place across the country including a “zombie challenge” organised by ICE North East and Amec Foster Wheeler.
This involves female students learning engineering skills to escape zombies and complete disaster relief exercises.
And ICE Wales Cymru teamed up with CIWM for a lecture at Cardiff University. Speakers included Welsh Government deputy minister for skills Julie James.
Female engineers and technicians are also being profiled in the media and past President’s apprentice and Crossrail Liverpool Street project engineer Aimi Elias will feature in a roundtable discussion in a special supplement in the Independent newspaper.
Organisations including Atkins, Bechtel and Transport for London are planning to celebrate the day through social media campaigns such as #notjustforboys and #IAmAnEngineer. The 100 Years of Women in Transport campaign was also due to stage a mass photocall on Horse Guards Parade in London on Tuesday morning.
The photocall is expected to attract hundreds of women engineers across all disciplines and hopes to break the Guinness World Record for “the most people performing a jumping high five simultaneously”, reflecting the campaign’s theme of “high fiving” the amazing achievements of women in engineering.
ICE director general Nick Baveystock, applauded the awareness raising activity across the industry and said the increase in graduate numbers was encouraging, but added that efforts needed to continue.
“The reality is that there are still more male than female engineers, so we must do more, and collaboration between industry and institutions is critical to success.” he said.
“Engineering solutions are best delivered by multi-disciplinary teams of men and women working creatively together, so there is a commercial as well as a social imperative to right the imbalance, and industry must make its case.
“Schools also have a duty to lead the drive in overcoming outdated perceptions about careers in engineering and ensure they are accessible to all.”
- Follow ICE’s activity on Twitter at @ice_engineers