Attracting women into engineering - a personal reflection

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


It is well known that engineering fails to attract sufficient women: in the United Kingdom (UK) 2018-19 academic year, only 21% of all higher education (HE) engineering and technology entrants, and only 12% of the engineering workforce, werewomen, which reduces to 9% for occupations exclusively within the engineering sector (Engineering UK 2020).This chapter reviews the literature which supports my observation, over more than 3 decades as a female engineer, that predominantly male workforces value masculine traits: assertiveness, objective rationality, technical capability and direct problem solving. These same
Gender equalityandrepresentation within and beyond the University of the Highlands and Islands traits are, indeed, the gateway to higher engineering education and the cornerstones of success in engineering degrees. This chapter discusses, from both personal and established viewpoints, why women are still not attracted to engineering careers, despite considerable global efforts to remove the patriarchy. It highlights, by examining published case studies, how failing to attractwomen into engineering careers is detrimental to the whole profession. Negative effects include insufficient engineering graduates available, abysmally poor retainment of female engineers, products badly designed without female input, and ignorance of thebenefits feminine attributes bring to engineering teams. Critiquing, through research, potential solutions to this worldwide problem, this chapter goes on to recommend realistic and implementable changes which can be made to the University of the Highlands and Islands’ HE curriculum to improve gender diversity in engineering, thus supporting the post-COVID-19engineering environment, where drastic
Gender equalityandrepresentation within and beyond the University of the Highlands and Islands change is imminent. Industry 4.01, the fourth industrial revolution, heralds the start of a Smart Factory era when many traditional engineering jobs will be taken by robots –no longer will engineers ‘fix engines’. Going forward into this automated era, creative multi-tasking and empathetic collaboration are likely to become the dominant skills required for the engineer of the future, and these skills are particularly prevalent in women.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGender equality and representation within and beyond the University of the Highlands and Islands
Subtitle of host publicationA book in celebration of International Women's Day 2021
EditorsAlexandra Walker, Carolin Radtke
PublisherUHI Open monographs (UHIOM)
Pages236 - 239
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)978-1-8384413-2-6
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2021


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