It is well documented that we are currently suffering an engineering skills shortage in the UK, and we are producing 36,000 fewer engineers than we need each year. Arguably, this is at least partly to do with women’s attitudes towards engineering, and the notion that engineering is not a woman’s job. This may be especially the case with roles such as mechanical engineering jobs in Cumbria, where the positions seem particularly ‘manly’. By changing perceptions of engineering, we may see more roles filled and better quality engineers being employed as competition grows.
What is the main problem?
Engineering is traditionally seen as a man’s role, and this is reflected in the percentage of female versus male engineers; only 12.8% of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) workforce are female.
However, this is not due to a lack of ability in women, as the girls that do choose STEM subjects outperform boys at all levels. In fact, on average, girls perform a quarter of a grade better than boys. Girls also outnumber boys in STEM qualification choices more generally, for example 58% of biology A-level students and 60% of medicine undergraduates are female.
The problem, it seems, is that girls are not choosing to do physics at a level higher than GCSE, which means that they cannot study engineering in higher education. Additionally, the young women who do take physics at A-level then choose not to study engineering at University. Data shows, in fact, that the percentage of young women who choose to study physics has not changed in 30 years.
Interestingly, and perhaps most tellingly, this is not seen to the same extent in other countries, and the UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers in the EU. There is also a greater percentage of girls from all girls schools taking physics, with those girls being two and a half times more likely to study it at A level, again adding to the idea that it is not something innate causing disinterest, but perhaps something cultural.
Roles such as mechanical engineering jobs in Cumbria and the rest of the UK may be at particular risk of suffering as a result of the skills shortage, as there is a much more obvious gender stereotype attached. In order to fill the roles so necessary for our economy to thrive, and fill them with high-quality workers, we must address the issues at hand and remove the damaging stereotypes.
If you would like more help or information regarding mechanical engineering jobs in Cumbria, talk to someone at Engineering Jobs Cumbria today.