Trade association, British Glass has launched Women in Manufacturing, an initiative aimed at bringing together the UK's manufacturing and engineering communities to attract, support and retain women in industry at all levels and disciplines.
According to the Glass Academy, a sub-project of British Glass’ training and skills development division, women currently represent 8.7% of professional engineers in the UK, compared to 26% in Sweden and 29% in Bulgaria, giving Britain the lowest percentage in the EU.
CEO at British Glass and The Glass Academy, Dave Dalton said: “Modern manufacturing and engineering is a technologically advanced and innovative sector in which to work, however, young girls and women are not inspired to take up STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related studying or careers.
“Initiatives like this are crucial in helping to dispel preconceived ideas about the reality of jobs in engineering and manufacturing, and to encourage the next generation of women to consider these sectors as a possible career.”
Held at the House of Commons, the event was attended by a number of high profile representatives from industry, government, STEM and education. These included Siemens, TATA Steel, Thales, WISE, The Engineering Society, UCL and the University of Sheffield. Also in attendance was Deirdre Fox, director of strategic business at TATA Steel and advisory board member of The Manufacturer.
Education minister, Lord Nash, was the keynote speaker and commented on the importance of “education and industry working together effectively to address the paucity” of women in STEM careers. Lord Nash was joined by Nadja Swarovski, patron of WiM and Swarovski board member, she said: “At Swarovski around two-thirds of our workforce are women and we employ over 8,700 women in manufacturing.
“There are fantastic opportunities for women in the manufacturing industry and it’s really important that we educate younger women on the many wonderful career paths and help them to network with other women in the industry.”
The scheme’s primary objectives are to join together education, government and industry to raise awareness of well-paid and fulfilling jobs within the sector to inspire girls and young women to take up STEM subjects, and to drive a cultural shift through education to eliminate gender stereotyping from school to industry.