23rd junio 2022

What does the engineering sector look like today in terms of the gender imbalance?

The engineering sector is a diverse job market that could still be facing diversity and inclusion issues when it comes to the representation of women in jobs that are traditionally deemed engineering. But there is emerging hope for this sector with improved gender equality as 936,000 (16.5%) women were found working in the UK in engineering roles in 2021 compared to 562,000 (10.5%) in 2010.

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Using data from the Labour Force Survey – Engineering UK compiled a report on ‘Women in engineering’ trends in the engineering workforce between 2010 and 2021; below is our summary of that report.

The full report is available here.

The report makes it clear what Engineering UK, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Engineering Council have agreed as to what constitutes an ‘engineering’ role. They also go on to say that the role must meet the definition of either ‘core’ or ‘related’ engineering. Core refers to roles that are primarily engineering based, requiring consistent application of engineering knowledge and skills; and Related refers to roles requiring a mixed application of engineering knowledge and skills along with other skill sets.

Where are female engineers employed?

The report noted that women were more likely to be employed in ‘related’ engineering roles then ‘core’ engineering roles, and this also varied on particular engineering sectors. Interestingly, female engineers were more likely to be found in jobs outside the engineering sector (24%) than in (12.5%) – almost 50% difference (male engineers making up the other 63.5%).

Roles within the ‘Culture, Media and Sports’ area consistently had the highest percentage of women working in engineering roles, some 30,000. Roles within Science, Engineering and Technology Associate Professionals also increased from 18.8% to 28.1%, along with Science, Research, Engineering and Technology Professionals with an increase of 21.1%.

In comparison skills-based roles like metal, electrical, electronic, construction, building, and transport and mobile machine operatives had the lowest employment uptake.

However, a key point to observe is these figures could be misrepresentative because during 2010-2021 an increase in the number of women employed coincided with a decrease in men working in the sector. For example, there was an increase of 2,500 female electronic engineers but a decrease of 15,000 male electronic engineers.

Overall, though, the report is highlighting that there is a positive change and that more women are taking up jobs within the engineering sector, especially the non-traditional engineering sector roles. But as companies, employers, and employees we need to continue encouraging, celebrating and promoting women working in engineering roles and sectors, to ensure this rebalancing progress continues. We need to inspire and support the recruitment and retention of the next generation of female engineers in even the more ‘core’ of engineering roles and sectors, and at the highest levels.

If you were inspired by this blog continue reading about Women in Engineering here and share this article on your channels to help promote and inspire others to talk about supporting women in engineering.

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