Women in engineering promoted at GCU event

24 June 2014

Promoting and encouraging women working in the engineering industry was the focus of an event held at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) on Monday, June 23.

Women In Engineering, held as part of National Women in Engineering Day, aimed to raise the profile and celebrate the achievements of women working in the industry and allied sciences.

The one-day event also explored some of the key issues in bringing more women in to the sector, at a time when it has never been more important to address the skills shortage.

In the UK, women are hugely underrepresented in the engineering disciplines, with only 7% of the engineering workforce being female (the IET 2013 Skills Survey).

Principal Professor Pamela Gillies addressed the participants at the event, who also heard from guest speakers in the field.

Laura McEwen is an apprentice coordinator at GE Aviation. She said: “It’s unfortunate that an event like this is still needed in 2014 but it is a great way of networking and engaging with young women who are interested in becoming an engineer. Career advisors attend events such as these, listen to people in the industry and return to their schools to promote engineering to schoolchildren, giving them a better insight into what it’s all about.”

Anne Madsen, who currently works on BAE Systems Naval Ships’ Type 45 destroyers project, was keen to stress that a work-life balance is achievable for women in engineering.

She said: “It’s really important to get the message across to young women entering the profession, who are told by their families that their profession will end when they have a family – it is not true. There are ways to make it all blend together. It is possible and it is enjoyable. I have achieved it, do not be put off.”

Colin Murchison, Associate Dean, School of Engineering and Built Environment, said: “Encouraging women into engineering careers not only increases diversity and inclusion – a business imperative – but enables industry to fill the substantial future job opportunities that have been predicted in this sector.

“By attracting more female engineers, companies gain a better understanding of their customers’ needs, improve product designs and can compete more effectively in the marketplace. Women engineers bring different perspectives to the profession and enable project teams to generate more creative solutions that better address and meet society’s needs.”

The afternoon session took the form of a workshop with participants invited to contribute their views on some of the issues surrounding gender balance in the engineering sector.

The full list of presentations for the event is as follows:

  • History of women in Engineering (Dr Nina Baker, Engineering Historian and Consultant on Gender Diversity in STEM PhD, BSc)
  • Is engineering a positive career choice for women? (Rhona Marsland, Geotechnical Engineer at Mott Macdonald)
  • How do we get younger women engaged with the idea of being engineers? (Laura McEwen from GE Aviation)
  • Work-life balance for women in engineering (Anne Madsen, BAE Systems)
  • The future of engineering – exciting new developments for the next generation.