PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN ENGINEERING
It is a well-known fact that the engineering profession faces a significant skills shortage. EngineeringUK estimates that we need another 59,000 engineers to address the gap in order to deliver carbon net-zero by 2050.
National Grid has recently estimated that we will need at least a further 400,000 jobs in the sector so the need for scientists and engineers to solve our major issues in sustainability, health and poverty will continue to grow going forwards.
Prosper spoke to Professor Sarah Hainsworth, Chair for the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean at Aston University to talk about the issues the industry faces and how the Academy is working to address them.
“The engineering profession plays a crucial role in shaping the world around us and designing solutions for some of the biggest challenges our world faces,” said Sarah, “Therefore it is critical that the diversity of the profession reflects the society it serves.
“The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Education and Skills and Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) committees are working hard to address these issues through a number of routes.
“The first of these addresses the engineering pipeline through a major multi-year campaign ‘This is Engineering’ www.thisisengineering.co.uk, developed in collaboration with EngineeringUK, which aims to change the public perception of engineering,” continued Sarah.
“It showcases the diverse range of exciting and rewarding jobs that are available in engineering and focusses on encouraging people that are creative and passionate about changing the world to consider engineering as a career. The Academy also works closely with teachers to develop resources on the talents that engineering needs.
“Another programme aimed at improving the diversity of engineers entering the profession is the Academy’s Graduate Engineering Engagement Programme (GEEP). GEEP was recognised with a Race Equality Award from the Business in the Community’s responsible business awards in 2019.
GEEP targets engineering undergraduates who are female or from socially disadvantaged or ethnic minority backgrounds to engage with engineering employers and achieve greater success in obtaining engineering employment.”
Currently, only 12% of the engineering profession are female and this is something that needs to be fixed in order to address the skills gap.
There is a range of initiatives that the Academy’s D&I committee are working on.
One such initiative is the ‘Creating Cultures Where all Engineers Thrive’ report, which was based on a survey of over 7,000 engineers on engineering workplace culture.
It identified seven indicators of inclusion in the workplace - openness, respect, relationships, career development support, flexibility, leadership, and diversity.
“Inclusion is seen as a ‘wicked’ problem where no one solution works and all companies must find ways in which to drive culture change with everyone engaged from the CEO down,” Sarah continued.
“The report found that 80% of engineers who feel included are more motivated, 68% perform better and 52% have an increased commitment to their organisation. The more included engineers feel, the more likely they are to understand business priorities, be confident about speaking up about improvements, mistakes or safety concerns and importantly for the profession, the more likely they are to remain in engineering.
“We are currently developing a range of toolkits to help companies act on the recommendations of the report and use with their colleagues to drive a conversation on inclusivity and raise awareness of how individuals can make a difference.
“Our most recent work, launched in February, assesses the gender pay gap for engineering roles. The positive news is that engineering is a great career that consistently shows higher-than-average earnings and higher-than-average levels of job satisfaction and the engineering gender pay gap is lower than many other professions at two thirds the national average.
“The gender pay gap for engineers is largely due to under-representation of women in more senior and higher paid roles and the report recommends actions that companies can take in order to improve the number of women in senior roles in the future.
“So,” Sarah concludes, “Whilst we continue to have challenges in terms of improving the gender balance of the engineering profession, there are many positive steps being taken to deliver a diverse and inclusive engineering profession going forwards.”
Female Engineering Finalists at National Express
Meanwhile over at National Express, the inter-regional coach operator and a Chamber Platinum member, one bus Engineering Development Manager Katie McGrath has won a spot at the national finals of women in transport award.
Katie, 26, from Stourbridge, is a finalist in the Above and Beyond category of the 2020 Amazon everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards. The awards showcase the crucial positions women hold in the industry, redefining a sector that has long been seen as male-dominated.
Katie arrived at National Express in 2016 on their graduate scheme, after studying biochemistry at the University of Birmingham. She soon discovered a passion for engineering and became Engineering Development Manager in March 2018.
Bernie Cassidy, Engineering Director at National Express, told Prosper, “Everyone at National Express West Midlands is so proud of Katie and what she’s already achieved.
“Katie has a great skill for analysing data. Combined with a real gift for communicating to teams and bringing them on board, she has improved many of our systems even in the short time she’s been with us. As a result of her work, breakdowns are down over 10% year on year.
“Katie is also a great role model for women in engineering - she’s always happy to encourage female STEM students. For International Women’s Day in March this year, she went to Birmingham’s South and City College to talk about what it’s like to work in the bus industry. The students there found her inspiring and engaging.”
Maxine Benson MBE, Co-Founder of everywoman, said: “With the coronavirus outbreak shining a spotlight on how crucial our transport and logistics sector is, celebrating role models and creating a strong pipeline of female talent is more important now than ever before.”
“These finalists represent 60 of the most outstanding individuals working in transport and logistics today.”
The West Midlands is well represented in this year’s everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards. Anne Shaw - Assistant Director of Network Resilience at Transport for West Midlands - and Laura Shoaf - the Managing Director of Transport for West Midlands - are also finalists in Leader categories.
To find out more about the work of the Royal Academy of Engineering and its programmes please visit: www.raeng.org.uk/diversity-in-engineering