Engineering a way to smash glass ceilings

Posted on 1 Aug 2012 by The Manufacturer

As the deadline passes for entry into the 2012 Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award, Sector Skills Council Semta calls for more companies in the manufacturing and engineering sector to support women in the workplace.

Last entries into the 2012 Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award closed this Monday and as the shortlist is made, Semta is pushing to highlight the importance of celebrating female talent and increasing it in manufacturing roles.

Women form roughly one half of the UK labour market but only one fifth of the engineering and manufacturing workforce is female. This represents the lowest proportion of female engineering professionals in any EU economy according to the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (UKRC).

Susan Evans, business development director at Semta, and a mechanical engineer who began her career with the European space company, EADS Astrium commented on the comparison saying, “Women in the rest of Europe are engineers so we need to help the UK overcome its stark gender disparity and smash any glass ceilings.”

To help businesses do this Semta offers a Career Advancement and Progression Programme through its awarding body EAL.

Formerly known as the Women and Work Programme this offering has benefitted 1,300 women in the UK, helping them to deal with work/life commitments and build the confidence to tackle the careers they are capable of.

Fifty eight per cent of those who have taken advantage of this Semta offering say they have been able to take on more responsibility at work as a result. Eighteen per cent have taken on more senior roles.

Untapped talent pool.

Semta says the importance of tapping into female talent pools will help the manufacturing and engineering sector fulfill its future skills needs.

Ms Evans asserts that, “Manufacturing and engineering businesses need 82,000 new engineers, scientists and technicians between now and 2016. Women represent a great untapped resource at a time when we need a wealth of new talent and higher level skills to improve competitiveness.”

The Women and Work Commission estimates that removing barriers to women working in occupations traditionally done by men, and increasing women’s participation in the labour market, could be worth up to £23 billion per year.

Celebrating what is there.

Commending the Young Woman Engineer of the Year, administered by the The Institute of Engineering and Technology, Ms Evans says: “[These] awards recognise the brilliant talent displayed by women in engineering and manufacturing careers. It is essential that businesses nurture their female employees to encourage them to reach their potential and stay in the industry. In doing so, we believe more women will be encouraged to consider a career in these economically important, wealth producing sectors.”

The winner of the 2012 Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards will be announced at a ceremony on December 6 2012.

Companies interested in finding out how the Career Advancement and Progression Programme can help their business should visit