Crossrail has said that addressing the gender imbalance is the only way to address the current industry skills shortage.
Crossrail believes that the UK needs to double the number of university engineering graduates to 87,000 each year to meet the demand to meet the 1M job openings expected in the industry by 2020.
According to Crossrail, only 8.5% of engineers in the UK are women, which is the lowest representation of any European country.
“The UK plans to deliver an unprecedented pipeline of infrastructure projects but it must do more to attract women to address the skills demand,” said Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme. “There is also more that we must do to challenge the gender stereotypes that continue to influence some young women and men in their selection of careers. Crossrail has a number of senior women leading our project and our male and female engineers are working across London’s schools, reaching more than 10,000 students in the past year to promote engineering and breakdown stereotypes.”
Crossrail marked the UK’s first National Women in Engineering Day on 23 June with an event called Engineer Your Future in which more than 70 students aged 16 to 19 looked at the barrier that prevent women from entering an engineering career. Emerging themes included perceptions that it was a “man’s job”, family objections and discrimination. Both men and women thought integrating engineering into popular culture through TV shows, celebrity endorsement, advertising and media campaign and promoting female role models would help raise the profile of engineering as a career for women.
Crossrail has also launched a competition to promote women’s role in engineering and 30 finalists will join leading female Crossrail engineers working on Canary Wharf station and the five winners will receive a year’s mentoring from leading Crossrail engineers.