#INWED19: 2/3rds of women considering engineering careers, despite only 12% take up

21 June 2019

IET #IAmAnEngineer screen capture [video below]
IET #IAmAnEngineer screen capture [video below]

Ahead of International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) this Sunday 23rd June, new research by the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of British women are considering taking up careers in engineering, despite there only being 12% (according to Engineering UK 2017 data) currently in industry.

When exploring the reasons why, the IET-led research found that nearly a fifth of women (17%) suggest the disparity in those thinking about pursuing engineering, and those who follow through, could be down to a lack of visible role models. This becomes most evident when considering the 28% of women who don’t think they’re clever enough to consider pursuing a career in engineering.

Worryingly, outdated visions of the industry could also be contributing, with 18% feeling it’s not suited to their gender, while alarmingly, a further 13% are put off by the fear of being discriminated against.

This can be seen most prominently with nearly half (49%) of the population feeling STEM industries are outwardly sexist. And 91% of Brits do not think it’s important to address the gender imbalance in engineering, despite it being a heavily male-dominated industry.

Jo Foster, IET Diversity & Inclusion Manager, said: “The statistics present quite a shocking picture of the public’s views of gender disparity in engineering. The belief that it’s not important to address the gender imbalance is very naïve and could be very detrimental to businesses and organisations that won’t reap the benefits that come from a diverse workforce.

“It’s vital we turn this around and work hard to understand and solve the reasons why women, in particular, feel that engineering careers aren’t for them. This could be from ensuring we have more positive women role models, changing the perception of engineering and technology careers and working more closely with businesses.

“The good news is, we are finally moving in the right direction. Although small progress has been made, the fact that nearly two-thirds of women are interested in engineering careers is something to be celebrated – and we will work hard to support as many as we can in the early stages of their careers.”

STEM careers, however, are valued significantly, with almost a fifth (19%) of the public understanding both the wide range of job opportunities available and the earning potential of an engineering career.


To mark this year’s INWED, and to highlight diversity throughout engineering and technology – not just gender – the IET has launched its new social media campaign, #IAmAnEngineer, which features a wide variety of real-life engineers.


Research methodology

The research for Institution of Engineering & Technology was carried out online by Opinion Matters from 17/05/2019 to 23/05/2019 among a panel resulting in 1,000 13-23 year olds responding.

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