Ahead of International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) on Sunday, Minnie Lu, Consultancy Manager, and Kirsty Glover, Civil/Structural Engineer, attended the Royal Academy of Engineering’s INWED Leadership Lunch to share their thoughts on the topic of “Why emerging technologies attract female leadership”.
Following the welcome and introduction by Royal Academy of Engineering’s president, Professor Dame Ann Dowling, the room was presented with some stark statistics, such as only 12% of professional engineers are female and only 16% of students studying for first degrees in engineering are women.
Guest speaker Dr Caroline Hargrove, Chief Technology Officer at Babylon Health, spoke to the room about the “pleasant but striking contrast” from leaving a primarily white, male-dominated organisation to join a health company with a diverse workforce and a gender split of almost 50-50. Following the presentation, the room was encouraged to continue the diversity in the workplace conversation over lunch and then to present each table’s views to the rest of the room.
Other issues relating to gender diversity were also discussed around the tables and included some who had witnessed schools discourage young girls to pursue scientific subjects, whilst others expressed concerns about the public image of engineering.
Despite this, the majority of the table discussions were optimistic, with topics that covered how to encourage schools and teachers not to project dated views of engineering and science subjects, as well as discussion on the right age to influence young girls into engineering.
Commenting on the INWED Leadership Lunch, Kirsty said: “It was motivating to hear all the progressive ideas shared around the room. This event was a great opportunity for the younger generation of engineers to network with our senior industry leaders, sharing both advice and experiences.”