The new president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) wants to see more engineering employers consider introducing a range of measures including quotas to boost the number of female engineers.
Naomi Climer, who has become the IET’s first female President in its 144-year history, has been an engineer for almost three decades, during which time the proportion of female engineers in the UK has remained at less than one in 10, the lowest level in Europe. In comparison, 50% of GPs are female.
Climer believes the lack of gender diversity in engineering means the time is right to encourage employers to employ more female engineers. Introducing quotas for the number of female engineers in the workforce would be one way of doing this.
One of Climer’s first initiatives as IET President is to announce new recommendations from an IET collaboration with Prospect, the trade union for professionals.
These recommendations include developing user-friendly guidance for employers on how to recruit, promote and retain more experienced women working in science, technology and engineering roles, as well as working with government and employers to establish an all-party parliamentary group for women working in these professions.
Climer commented: “Despite the best efforts, there has been little progress in attracting more women into engineering over the past few decades, so I feel that the time is right to force action through the use of quotas.
“Diversity is good for the bottom line because mixed teams, whether of race, gender or age are naturally more creative and therefore better able to come up with solutions for the problems engineers face. So, it’s frustrating and disappointing that the sector’s glaring gender disparity has not been fixed.
“If there was just one issue we would have fixed it by now, but there are just so many little parts that we need to fix. It is everything from the subtle ways that boys and girls are treated differently from birth that lead them in different directions.
“It’s down to the information that the decision makers they turn to – parents and teachers – have about engineering. There is also the image and perception that many people have of engineering in this country.
“I will be working hard to highlight just how creative, exciting and diverse an engineering career is. It gives you the opportunity to do something life- or world-changing.
“But there is a big job to do to increase public understanding of the important role engineering plays in our daily lives and get more young people, particularly girls, excited about the possibilities of an engineering career.”