The government has called for more women to think about a career in engineering, highlighting them as ‘an absolute necessity’ for the future of transport.

Women currently represent just 12 per cent of the engineering workforce and 18 per cent of the transport sector workforce. Hiring more women is essential for the delivery of major transport infrastructure projects like HS2 and Heathrow expansion.

It is estimated that by 2033 there will be a combined shortfall of around 341,000 jobs in the sector.

The call follows the convening of a roundtable on women in transport this week by the Department for Transport’s Permanent Secretary Bernadette Kelly, attended by senior female leaders in the sector. Representatives from the Royal Academy of Engineering, Ford, Heathrow Airport, Network Rail, the Women in Maritime Taskforce, and Virgin Atlantic were present.

Key points of discussion included unconscious bias, challenging perceptions, and parent policies.

To coincide with International Women in Engineering Day today, the government is also celebrating the success of the Year of Engineering campaign in increasing the awareness of opportunities in engineering. The campaign delivered an estimated 5.1 million experiences of engineering for young people in 2018 – far exceeding the one million target.

Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport, Bernadette Kelly said, “We want to challenge traditional perceptions of engineering to ensure our transport industry has the skills it needs for the future.”

“This isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s necessary for engineering and transport to thrive.”

“We simply need more engineers and people in the industry as investment grows.”

“Currently, we’re not making use of a huge section of society and that can’t continue.”

“Building on progress and productive conversations with industry, I hope to help women across the country and of all ages see there are amazing careers in transport – from building site to boardroom.”

HS2 minister Nusrat Ghani added, “In this country, we build roads, rail track, we expand airports, and we need engineers from all corners of the country to help us deliver our ambitions.”

“Engineers are also at the heart of developing greener and more accesible transport, using innovation to design a better world that works for everyone.”

“The engineering and transport worlds have been male for too long.”

“A more diverse workforce will not only mean more opportunties for women, but will help the industry reach its potential.”