Attracting Women Into Manufacturing & Engineering
24 April 2017
The Scottish government announced last year that it was committed to the STEM agenda, and duly poured in hundreds of thousands of pounds to the education system to bolster this statement. Particularly evident was the need attract women in to Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing from an early age.
This began by encouraging girls to choose science and technology subjects at secondary school and take them through to Higher level. As a country, we need to encourage young girls and women to overcome the stereotype that science is for boys and home economics is for girls to pursue a STEM related career.
And it really must start at this early age before negative perceptions of certain career paths can take hold. Adequate and equal opportunities must be there; young girls need to be motivated and encouraged. If we want to attract the best and brightest minds into the fields that will move us forward, we must look to all of the population.
More women can contribute to Scottish manufacturing and engineering than are doing so currently. It must be difficult for young women to aspire to role models that simply aren’t there. It may even feel intimidating to attempt to enter such a male-dominated workplace.
These gender stereotypes continue right through school on to university life, where females are also less likely to opt for a degree in STEM subjects. However, there are signs that this is slowly changing.
According to figures from the Scottish government, between 2007 and 2016 the number of female entrants in STEM subjects at Scottish universities had increased by 26% in first degree courses and 47% in postgraduate courses.
Money has also been assigned to encourage women back into STEM careers after either taking a career break or after opting not to pursue a STEM career, despite completing a university degree. There seems to be a real disparity between women taking STEM related degrees and women in STEM jobs.
Attracting and retaining women in to career paths such as engineering has long been a problem, and not just in Scotland.
We need more women in STEM-based careers because gender diversity has been proven to be good for business in terms of productivity and share price. What good is a company that does not accurately reflect its customer base? If you do not share the values and needs of the people buying your products, how can you produce something that is beneficial to them?
Not to mention the fact that no one should be held back from a specific career path because it’s seen to be not in keeping with their gender. Jobs weren’t made for one type of person – if you are qualified and passionate, that should be all that counts.
If Scottish M&E businesses want to thrive in the ever-changing global markets, they need to recruit across the entire population. There needs to be a real effort to attract and retain women in to the industry.
If you are interested in pursuing a career within Scotland’s manufacturing and engineering industry, me and my team would love to talk to you. Click on the button below to see our contact details.
Written By Michelle McLaughlin