Hello International Women in Engineering Day!

It’s June 23rd! Which means all the best people working in the engineering sector will be celebrating International Women in Engineering Day (INWED).

INWED is the ‘World’s biggest initiative celebrating the achievements of women in engineering and allied roles’ led by the Women’s Engineering Society (which, side note, is my favourite engineering organisation but that’s likely not so important!).

Engineers + women = #EngineeringHeroes

This year’s theme is #EngineeringHeroes which could not be more apt for me… Here’s why.

Design Her In
Design Her In – a collaborative campaign to find solutions for the fundamental barriers to women participating in the engineering profession.

Speak Out Revolution’s #DesignHerIn campaign, launched in response to experiences women were sharing in the Speak Out Dashboard, explored the fundamental barriers to women participating in the engineering profession. 

The campaign identified 11 themes from women working across a broad range of industries including nuclear, construction, defence, energy and transportation, and the collective insights were very clear – the profession has not yet designed women into it’s workforce. 

The Top 5 barriers women in engineering identified to their advancement.

Top 5 Barriers to women participating in the engineering profession
  • No representation at senior leadership level
  • Unchallenged everyday sexism
  • Poor leadership and management of female staff
  • No access to truly flexible or part time working
  • Unfair pay compared to male counterparts

Today I will be celebrating all women working in engineering regardless of their accomplishments. Women who likely work without representation in senior leadership, face everyday sexism, are poorly managed, don’t have the flexibility they really need and are paid less than. 

These women (~12% of the workforce at last count) drive innovation within the sector by continuing to contribute their diverse skills, experiences and backgrounds to design and deliver solutions that serve everyone in our society, in spite of working environments and cultures not designed for them. 

Creating a more inclusive profession

Frequently in discussion amongst my own professional network is the lack of flexibility in working patterns, and availability of part time working. This particularly impacts working parents and disproportionately women either blocking them from serious consideration for promotion or forcing them to leave the profession amongst other detrimental outcomes. 

Flexible and part time working patterns benefit many demographics (not just women), inviting diversity of thought into our workplaces, essential to any engineering organisation that values innovation. 

If the engineering sector were handing out wishes this INWED, my wish would be for all companies celebrating to make all their open roles (at the point of advertisement) full time, part time, role share and flexible with a strong remote component. 

I expect this would go a long way to fulfilling my second wish of an embargo on senior leadership explaining that the underrepresentation of women in their organisation is because “We just don’t get CV’s from women”… Sigh

So as you and your organisation celebrate your #EngineeringHeroes I’d like to ask:

What tangible steps are you taking to remove these barriers in your organisation…?

If you’d like to make my wish come true but are struggling with the how, reach out to Find | Your | Flex who can uniquely help your organisation. You could simply post your flexible roles on their job platform or ask about their power hour consultations. They completely understand that initiating and driving change within an organisation can be difficult. So, they are on hand to help you with any HR issues you have.

About Speak Out Revolution

Speak Out Revolution is a not-for-profit, founded in 2020, working to cancel the culture of silence on harassment and bullying in workplaces across the UK. 

They host the Speak Out Dashboard, available on desktop at speakoutrevolution.co.uk/dashboard, sharing global insights into workplace harassment & bullying and the route to resolution for targets of poor behaviours. 

If you’ve worked in a toxic culture or with difficult people, spare 10 minutes to support their work by adding your experience anonymously here.

About the author – Marie Hemingway

Marie is the founder and director of Speak Out Revolution.

Photo of Marie Hemingway
Marie Hemingway, Founder and Director of Speak out Revolution.

She is a strategy consultant helping businesses transform their people, processes and technology to drive positive business outcomes with expertise in strategic investment decision making, digital transformation and organisational change.

She is a board member for the Women’s Infrastructure Network focused on expanding the network outside of London, creating cross sector opportunities for women to network, exchange ideas and help shape the infrastructure agenda.

Connect with Marie on LinkedIn here.

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