Government calls on more women in engineering, highlighting them as 'an absolute necessity'

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."

“Diversity is not a nice to have” says Shadow Minister for Digital Industries at Socitm women in IT launch

“Diversity is not a nice to have” Chi Onwurah, Shadow Minister for Digital Industries, said  at the Society of Information Technology Management’s (Socitm) women in IT network launch this week.

Socitm launched its new network at an event sponsored by Canon in London.Laughing businesswoman at meeting

The network is the brainchild of the public sector body’s president Nadira Hussain, who also acts as customer services transformation manager at London Borough Tower Hamlets. She set up the network to continue the research and discussion around the benefits of employing a diverse workforce.

The launch event was held to discuss experiences and ideas on how to advance the prospects of women in IT and digital.

Speaking at the launch Onwurah, who recently became the Shadow Minister for Digital Industries under Jeremy Corbyn's new leadership, said: “I’m glad that Socitm are doing this and celebrating women in IT, which is something I have always been passionate about.”

She said if she is asked to speak at a conference with an all-male panel she refuses to take part: “It’s not acceptable anymore. Diversity is not a nice to have, diversity has benefits, and without women in IT we will never know the kind of tech we could really have.

“Technology could be far better and far more humane if more of humanity were working on it. I’m still waiting for the professional bodies to stand up and say technology needs ethics too.”

Onwurah added: “We don’t just need more women in IT, but for more women to understand tech and digital in the home and the workplace so they can make more of a difference.”

During the launch Hussain said she started the network because she “wanted to make a difference and to ensure members had a more diverse make up.

“This is just the start. There really are no boundaries for this network, so it is not just for senior women or those in the public sector. It is not an exclusive group for just women and we want to learn from others too. We have gone for far too long without a forum to share diversity issues.”

Harry Gooding, Associate Director at Mortimer Spinks, spoke of the recruitment company’s women in IT survey, which is conducted annually in partnership with Computer Weekly.

The results for 2015 found that the majority of women are happy with their roles in the tech industry: “If 94% of women are happy to be working in technology then why don’t we have more wanting to join?

“Worryingly, when asked the last time that you heard a conversation at work about diversity the figure only rose 1% from 44% in 2014 to 45% in 2015.”

Vanessa Vallely, founder of WeAreTheCity, said there are 1,500 women’s networks across London “but not enough of them are in tech.”

She spoke of the importance of networking and said: “I realised suddenly that my network used to be who I could see across the office and this needed to change. I also realised that I had also stopped asking for help when I needed and was trying to be superwoman doing everything.”