A lack of diversity in engineering is an ongoing issue with women, black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups underrepresented in a broad range of technical roles. Even with a focus on encouraging greater diversity and levelling the gender pay gap over recent decades, diversity in engineering remains poor.
Engineering itself continues to suffer, along with other business sectors, that have already recognised that a diverse workforce drives creativity and innovation. There is a shortfall of engineers and technicians in the UK with the required core skills and an urgent need for new talent.
Yet, at the same time, women in engineering need to achieve higher competency levels to be recognised as equals to their male counterparts. We desperately need to encourage a progressive workplace culture to create a sustainable society and an inclusive economy.
A recent Teach First report highlights the scale of the problem. Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women, and just 16% of engineering students are female. Furthermore, only 8% of black, Asian, and minority ethnic individuals are technicians or engineers, even though they make up 12% of the total workforce.
To encourage careers and diversity in engineering, we need to attract women and ethnic individuals towards education in technology and engineering. We already know that women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) perform as well or better than male students, but they often drop out of this educational path.
The dropout rate indicates that we need to consider further what motivates these groups and uncover what they are passionate about. Diversity in engineering is crucially important because it is a key business success factor. Many studies show that companies that achieve good levels of diversity see a boost in productivity and profit.
Diversity in engineering and creating a robust pipeline of new talent is vital for the industry. It makes no sense to ignore half the talent pool when striving for a world-class engineering industry.
What we can do
It is logical that we now consider what we can do to improve diversity in engineering. We can start by creating an all-inclusive environment and by recognising people for their skills and not their gender or ethnicity.
Women and ethnic individuals are often held to stricter standards. This is not fair, so we should aim to hold all employees to the same standards and competencies. Role models are a proven way to help people rise to the challenge, female or not.
With fewer women already in leadership, we need to encourage those who have found success to mentor and champion young women coming into the industry. We can also ensure during the recruitment process that women are in our final list of job candidates.
To support diversity in engineering and to allow women to work safely, comfortably, and to the best of their abilities, Lindstrom is doing its part by providing engineering firms with workwear and PPE in different sizes for men and women. Everyone deserves to feel valued and be able to contribute, and our workwear rental service supports this ethos.