Closing the Talent Gap: Empowering Women in Engineering to Address the Skills Shortage
In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and innovation, the demand for skilled professionals, particularly in engineering, continues to surge. Yet, an evident shortfall in talent persists, posing a significant challenge across industries. However, a promising solution lies in unlocking the untapped potential of women in engineering—an underrepresented demographic that holds the key to narrowing this skill gap.
Historically, the field of engineering has been predominantly male-dominated. Despite progress in recent years, the representation of women in engineering remains disproportionately low. This gender disparity not only deprives the industry of diverse perspectives but also exacerbates the widening skills shortage.
According to Engineering UK, figures from last year stated that women make up only 16.5% of the engineering workforce. This is a 6% increase since 2010 and though this is progress, there is still a significant gender imbalance in the industry. For a lot of experts, solving this imbalance is a key part of ensuring the industry’s future skills needs are met.
Empowering women to pursue careers in engineering isn’t just a matter of gender equality; it’s an economic imperative. By harnessing the full spectrum of talent, we can meet the burgeoning demand for skilled professionals while fostering innovation and addressing complex challenges.
Combating the Gender Imbalance in Electronics
There are already some programmes aimed at getting girls interested in engineering from a young age. One such programme is the Girls into Electronics, from the UK Electronic Skills Foundation (UKESF). This is aimed at female students in key stage four, aged between 14 and 16, and those in sixth form.
In 2023, the number of girls involved in the course has doubled compared to last year, taking the number of participants to 465. The course - organised alongside Apple - was embraced by over 100 schools, having been conducted at a variety of the UK’s top universities. This is all part of the UKESF’s aim of addressing the skills shortage in electronics, whilst also closing the gender imbalance in the industry.
The CEO of UKESF, Stewart Edmonson, explained: “The UKESF is striving to improve diversity and inclusion in the electronics sector, so we’re also pleased to announce that nearly half of the students participating were from ethnic minority backgrounds.”
One of the key components of the course was an event day at a university, which 97% of participants described as being good or excellent. The day focused on electronics and the education options available at university, whilst also incorporating hands-on experience. Women who are already working in the industry spoke to the students, sharing their experiences of working in the engineering sector.
Apple’s Inclusion and Diversity Partnerships Lead for Europe, India, Africa and the Middle East Mari-Anne Chiromo said: “We’re thrilled to have worked with the UKESF on this important initiative, encouraging more women from all backgrounds to study electronic engineering and increase diverse representation in the field.”
A Girls into Electronics programme participant gave feedback on the day, describing the course as being insightful. She went on to say: “It made me consider a sector which I hadn’t necessarily thought about before. It was amazing talking to so many inspirational women from the electronics industry.”
There have been other initiatives created to support, inspire, and equip women with everything they need to build a successful career in the engineering and technology sectors. Some of these are:
- Stemettes is an award-winning social enterprise working to inspire and support young women and non-binary people in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths careers.
- Code First Girls aims to transform tech by providing women with the skills, confidence, and inspiration to make it in the industry.
- International Women in Engineering Day is an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and bring attention to the career opportunities available to girls in the industry.
- The Women’s Engineering Society is a charitable company, founded in 1919 to support women in engineering.
- Women in Science and Engineering is an initiative intended to highlight career opportunities for girls and women in science and engineering professions.
- Women in Tech is a site dedicated to women already in or looking to start their careers in the IT and high-tech sectors.
According to UCAS, in 2021 3,245 students enrolled into electronic and electrical engineering degrees in the UK, but only 335 were female.
This highlights how important it is to encourage women into engineering-related education, enabling them to pursue engineering careers. Though there is a long way to go, programmes such as those organised by UKESF are making a difference.
Encouraging women to pursue engineering careers isn’t solely about meeting quotas or achieving gender parity; it’s about unlocking the full potential of human capital. It’s about building a future where innovation thrives, problems are solved creatively, and industries evolve sustainably.
Redline's depth of knowledge is unparalleled in the technology sector; the stability, consistency and longevity of the business, our brand, ethics, and the staff have created a wealth of knowledge and experience. Head to our whitepaper to read more on Women in Engineering.