When I grow up I want to be…An Engineer
As a 12 year old I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be like those people on TV who were able to argue for a living, and never lose. Little did I know that this was only TV, and after research I found that being a lawyer really wasn’t for me!
But this wasn’t until the age of 16, when deciding what I wanted to do after my GCSEs was an urgent decision I needed to make.
As we grow up it is almost drilled into us that the girls do one job and the boys another with certain subjects in school gender-biased.
But that’s the problem isn’t it? All our school life we are told what subjects to take, with complete concentration on ensuring you achieve those C grades or above in English, Maths and Science. But what about the rest? I enjoyed Home economics, that’s didn’t mean I wanted to be a stay at home mum. I also enjoyed art, but I most definitely didn’t want to be a painter. I asked myself what is left for me? And what is left for you; if you don’t want those careers either?
In school there were always those subjects that were a welcomed relief from the traditional big three; IT, Design Technology and Home Economics have all been a part of the National Curriculum for many many years, but did you know that these subjects have strong foundations as well as mathematics, and science for gaining a rewarding job in engineering? And in addition to can create an exciting future for yourself.
The word engineering has the tendency to leave people thinking, “It’s a dirty job,” “Only men can do it,” or “I don’t want to work with cars”. These career stereotypes need to be broken, the positives of a career in engineering need to be shared and educated to our young people.
The UK as a whole are facing shortages in jobs relatable to engineering. 81,000 job shortages in fact. With the younger generation not taking an interest in a career path of engineering, our businesses within the UK worry about the replacement of their older employees and the future of their businesses as a whole. But this doesn’t have to be this way. We can make a difference now.
So what’s the problem? When comparing statistics collected by wisecampaign.org.uk from 2014 to 2015 schools have seen an average 9.7% decrease in pupils taking STEM orientated subjects at A Level such as further maths, biology, Physics and IT. What has stayed the same however is that these students are heavily saturated by males in comparison to females. This being said however the growth in females taking computing has risen by over 5,700. So it’s growing? Yes it is, in computing. Between 2014 and 2015 the demand to do a STEM subject has decreased by 9.7% across the board for males and females. So that means a 9.7% decrease in potential engineers for our businesses and economy! We need to understand why pupils are losing interest even though their grades are high!
Where are the girls at?
As women we are told we can do anything. It was Beyoncé Knowles who asked; “Who run the world? Girls!” Then why do we still believe in gender specific roles in our industry and believe that an engineer is the role of a man. Did you know that women make up only 9% of the engineering sector, and that only 6% of these are registered engineers or technicians? No, I didn’t either, but why are we letting this happen? We fighter for gender equality with the female vote in the 19th century so why have we stopped reducing the gap between men and women now?
Throughout history there have been many influential female engineers, however they are given less thought than their male equivalents. Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was a female scientist celebrated yearly on the 16th October. Her work, together with Charles Babbage resulted in the invention of what’s thought to be the world’s first computer model. Without Ada Lovelace it can be predicted that computing now in the 21st century wouldn’t be the same.
It is essential that we begin to celebrate these women of our past in a way to educate and encourage the women of our future. Only then can these barriers be broken and can women feel comfortable to pursue a career male dominated.
Now do not worry if like many you do not have much knowledge on the heroes of female engineering, maybe the individuals you will relate to haven’t made their discovery yet, or quite simply haven’t been born. This should be viewed as an opportunity to create these heroes, and acknowledge the work that they do on a daily basis.
The Women’s Engineering Society, a charity and professional network set up in 1919 are continuously working to do this. The society works with some of the country’s largest universities and engineering based companies. They work to inspire, educate and guide women throughout their profession.
So now what do I do?
Whether you believe that you are the next Ada Lovelace, or quite simply would like to gain some more information on the world of engineering. Then there are many tools you can use to help turn on that light bulb in your head. www.Endgaim.info contains a series of web blogs and video blogs that can help you further your understanding of engineering.
You can also find my Vblog at: https://youtu.be/FgOHxIldCpQ