Tomorrow’s Engineers Week: EngineeringUK supports campaign to change the image of engineering

06 November 2019

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Taking place during Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek19), #ThisisEngineering Day pledges to address the misrepresentation of engineers & engineering online & in popular culture.

A new campaign that brings together major brands, leading businesses and high-profile engineers in a bid to change the online image search results for the word ‘engineer’ has been launched today, as part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week.

Led by Royal Academy of Engineering and involving over 100 organisations including the BBC, Facebook, ITV, Transport for London, Ocado, Rolls-Royce and National Grid, This is Engineering Day pledges to address the misrepresentation of engineers and engineering online and in popular culture.

The campaign used an AI (artificial intelligence) algorithm trained on online image search results for ‘engineer’ to generate artificial images of what it learned a typical engineer looked like – the majority of images generated were of a white man wearing a hard hat.

Over 100 brands across the UK that depend on engineering have come together to increase the public visibility of more representative images of engineers and engineering, and helped create a new library of free to use images of engineers that better represent what engineers and engineering really look like (www.flickr.com/thisisengineering/). This has been developed to encourage website owners and image users to deploy a more diverse range of images when showcasing engineers and the industries in which they work.

The campaign’s partners and supporters will also be challenging this misrepresentation on social media and through a range of different activities and events on This is Engineering Day including:

•    Amazon Alexa will answer questions about ‘This is Engineering Day’ and the role of engineers, and Amazon will run engineering-focused tours and STEM (science, technology, engineering & maths) workshops in its fulfilment centres on 6th November – which also happens to be Alexa’s birthday!
•    Network Rail showcasing real images of engineers on 60 screens across 15 stations in the UK, and across the Virgin train network
•    Facebook and Ocado creating and promoting new engineering video content featuring its engineers
•    Google hosting an engineering takeover at its Portsmouth Digital Garage on 6th November

Research from EngineeringUK shows that more needs to be done to raise awareness of engineering careers and encourage young people to consider the profession. Over three quarters (76%) of young people aged 11 to 19 and 73% of parents do not know a lot about what those working in engineering do.

Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, said: “We’re delighted that the Royal Academy of Engineering has chosen to launch this important campaign during Tomorrow’s Engineers Week.

EngineeringUK is passionate about demystifying the world of engineering to inspire all young people with the varied, stimulating and rewarding careers that engineering can offer. We welcome the collaborative approach of This is Engineering Day, drawing from across the engineering sector to offer a modern take of what an engineer looks like.

Dr Hayaatun Sillem, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “Engineers play a profoundly important role in shaping the world around us – from designing our cities and transport systems, to delivering clean energy solutions, enhancing cybersecurity and advancing healthcare – but that’s simply not reflected in online image searches.

That’s why on This is Engineering Day I’m appealing to anyone who uses or promotes images of engineers to join us in challenging outdated and narrow stereotypes of engineering. We want to ensure that engineers are portrayed in a much more representative way, and that we help young people see the fantastic variety of opportunities on offer.” 

The This is Engineering free public image library is available now at www.flickr.com/thisisengineering/ for media, photo, advertising agencies and the general public to view and use in projects, articles, campaigns and on social media. EngineeringUK is providing imagery from Tomorrow’s Engineers Week to be included in the library.


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