• Benita Mehra
  • Katherine Frost
President, WES

What are the barriers stopping talented female engineers from returning to the industry?

Job adverts often use language and a style that subconsciously prevent women from applying. Further, if women feel that they do not have at least 80 per cent of the skills required for a role, they will not apply. We need more creative and broad job adverts, and the option of remote working or job shares.  Women also need to realise they have transferable skills, such as project management or research abilities, which could be applied in different sectors.

What more could employers do to encourage women to come back into the engineering sector?

Employers should not always advertise in the same places. They should consider websites where the reach is to a difference audience to reach women, examples could be WES or Mumsnet. Also, do not insist that the person you want is from a further education establishment. People re-skill or upskill at different times and you want women to return who have the skills and the hunger to succeed.

How will society and the wider economy lose out if gifted female engineers do not reappear in the industry?

A McKinsey Global Institute report claims $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. Employers need to tap into the widest talent pool possible because the engineering workplace and its role in society is constantly changing. The difficulty for women returners is that often they do not know where their skills will fit into modern engineering

Project Engineer, SES Engineering Services

What are the barriers stopping talented female engineers from returning to the industry?

As a 27 year old engineer I know it might be hard to return in years to come because of the type of work and the long hours. I’d like to see barriers to flexible working removed and more options to work from home as you move up the career ladder. There is also still a view that mothers should not be on a building site.

What more could employers do to encourage women to come back into the engineering sector?

As well as flexible working women need to see role models and examples of female colleagues who have left the industry and returned. The HR department must also support women, and employers need to do more to change engineering’s public image that it is all hard hats and dirt. This will bring in more women and ultimately increase the number returning.

How will society and the wider economy lose out if gifted female engineers do not reappear in the industry?

Engineering is part of every area of society with women as well as men responsible for developing the products we use each day. Engineering companies must tap into talented women’s ideas because they will not reach their full potential if they cannot attract the skills they need. If a woman has engineering skills she should never be out of a job if she wants to work.