Analysis of trends in women in the engineering workforce between 2010 and 2021 shows this 6% increase in the proportion of women in the engineering workforce.
The actual number of women working in engineering roles also increased from 562,000 in 2010 to 936,000 in 2021, along with an overall expansion of the engineering workforce from 5.3 million in 2010 to 5.6 million in 2021. Strikingly, the increase in the number of women in engineering roles continued to rise even when the total number of people working in engineering fell in 2020 and 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Historically women have been underrepresented in engineering and the report finds differences by industry and by sector. For example, women make up only 12.5% of those working in engineering jobs within the engineering sector, compared to 24.4% outside of the engineering sector. This suggests that industries not traditionally associated with engineering might be more successful in attracting female engineers into the workforce.
Some engineering roles have seen higher than average increases in female representation, for example, the increase from just under 19% to over 28% of women in engineering roles classed as ‘science, engineering and technology associate professionals’.
Dr Hilary Leevers, chief executive of EngineeringUK, said: “It’s great to see an increase of women working in engineering roles, particularly for International Women’s Day, with almost 370,000 more women in those roles in 2021 compared with in 2010.
“The fact that women represent only 16.5% of those working in engineering should still be a major concern to the engineering sector. We hope that our analysis stimulates more exploration of how we can do better – why are women more likely to work in engineering outside of the engineering sector than in it? What changes have happened in some areas of engineering to make them more attractive to women? What can we do to bring more female engineers back into engineering?
We need to ensure that engineering is a career choice that attracts the next generation of young women and that we respond to the needs of women who have left the engineering workforce and actively bring them back. Engineering businesses and organisations recognise these needs and are working together more effectively to learn how to improve our efforts.
"I am optimistic that by learning and working together, we can quicken the pace of change and achieve the diverse and insightful workforce needed for the UK to thrive.”