The Women in Engineering Society (WES) recently celebrated its ninth International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June, celebrating the women of the sector and encouraging more young women and girls to take up engineering careers.
The society itself was formed over 100 years ago, following the First World War. During the conflict many women were drafted into factories and manufacturing plants to fill the roles left by the men who had gone to fight. However, after the conflict ended, these women experienced pressure from society to relinquish those jobs to the men returning from the forces. As such, WES was founded to not only to resist this pressure, but also to promote engineering as a rewarding job for women as well as men.
Industry has come on leaps and bounds in the last 100 years. However, we are still some way from gender parity. Only 16.5% of the workforce in engineering are female, increasing only to 26% in manufacturing. Compare these figures against 72% in education and 44% in the financial sector, and you can see there is work still to be done.
Here at The Manufacturer we are aiming for our speaker line up for the Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit in Liverpool on 16-17 November (part of Digital Manufacturing Week) to be as diverse as possible – gender, ethnicity, age, ability – physical or neuro, and sexual orientation. In particular, we are aiming for our speaker line up to be 50% female.
In an industry that is still male dominated, bias still exists – conscious or otherwise, and at The Manufacturer we feel it is vitally important to promote women in the sector and raise their profile (crucially, in partnership with the men of manufacturing), when they are still hugely under-represented.
This is particularly important as the sector is facing a huge skills shortage and is crying out for new talent. The UK is currently producing just over half the number of engineers it needs. Therefore, to tackle that skills shortage improving diversity and inclusion is a business imperative. In addition, research has also shown that the more diverse an organisation, the more productive it becomes and the more empowered its people are.
We are pleased to confirm that we have already confirmed a number of diverse speakers and discussion leaders at the Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit, SME Growth Summit and Smart Factory Expo including Iona Hera, Head of Improvement at Rolls Royce, Helen Anderson, Materials Planning Manager at Triumph Aerospace, Alison Beard-Gunter, Transformation Director at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Laura McBrown, Managing Director, G&B Electronics and Sara Halliday, Sustainability Manager at Severfield.
Grace Gilling, Managing Director at The Manufacturer said: “We are passionate about promoting the manufacturing industry for the vibrant and rewarding careers that it offers. We have a responsibility to promote the diverse and inclusive sector that it needs to become, and are committed to finding those that represent this to share their knowledge, insights and passion at Digital Manufacturing Week. We want to create an exciting line up of amazing speakers and discussion leaders that our audience may not have heard from before.”
“We were very pleased to have had 40% percent female speakers at last year’s event and we are aiming for 50% plus at this year’s, so we’d really appreciate your support in achieving this.” said Ashley Oulton, Conference Production Manager at The Manufacturer.
Topics covered during the summit will include:
- Supply Chain Agility/Resilience
- New Business Models
- The Workforce Skills of the Future
- Field Service Automation
- Operational Excellence
- Lean Manufacturing
- Sustainable Manufacturing
- Building a Transformation Roadmap
- Data Driven Supply Chains
- Building Digital Talent
- Additive Manufacturing
- Implementing Industry 4.0
- Automation & Robotics
- Augmented, Virtual & Mixed Reality
- Advanced/Predictive Analytics
- Net Zero and Carbon Footprint Reduction
- AI/Machine Learning
- Digital Twin
- Edge Computing
- IT/OT Convergence
If you can recommend colleagues and contacts in manufacturing management roles from a diverse background that would be good speakers, discussion leaders or panellists and have experience on any of the above topics then please contact us.