Tuesday, 9 June 2015

ISTM Women in Engineering

In our research institute we have quite a few engineers. If you are thinking of men in oil-stained overalls carrying spanners, think again! Hand tools are optional, and overalls would be an unusual outfit choice. More to the point, many of our engineers are women.

Sadly, engineering is misunderstood. Engineers do not fix cars and install new boilers. They design self-driving cars and develop new ways to produce clean energy. Engineers are inventors, who try to find solutions to problems and improve our world.

In our institute, the focus is human health: our engineers work on many biomedical research areas, such as designing prosthetic limbs, using stem cells to treat degenerative diseases, and developing new cancer therapies.

Engineering is creative and fulfilling. I am a female biomedical engineer myself, and I love it! (I do not use spanners in my work. I mostly use imaginary objects, and sometimes a pointy stick.)

However, the UK has a shortage of engineers. According to EngineeringUK, we need to double the number of recruits into engineering to meet demand. Girls in particular seem to think that engineering is not for them. I was shocked to find out that only 6% of the engineering workforce in the UK is female!

We need to encourage young people and particularly girls to consider careers in engineering. Who better to inspire them than female engineers in our institute? During the next few months, I will ask them about their work and career paths, and post their responses here.

June 23rd is National Women in Engineering Day so a fitting day to start our interview series. In the meantime, here is some reading for you: Tomorrow’s Engineers is a great website with information and resources on engineering careers. Start here: What is engineering?

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