Third Apprentice Joins Bromford – A View on Women in Engineering

We are delighted to welcome Cheryl Pereira onto our workforce here at Bromford Iron & Steel. She will be working closely with our Quality Manager, Kevin Ward, to gain further experience while working on her Apprenticeship.

Here are her thoughts on recruiting and promoting female talent in the Engineering Industry.

There is a clear business case for increasing the numbers of female engineers. The ongoing and acute skills shortage within all areas of engineering, combined with new technologies and new problems to solve is placing an incredible demand on the limited talent pool within UK manufacturing, design and engineering.

In 2018, research or engineering event Subcon showed that 28 per cent of respondents said that government and businesses need to do more together to increase the presence of women in the industry and 24 per cent ranked “increasing the number of women working in the engineering industry” as important. It is more vital than ever that we swell the ranks of female engineers.

It is also worth considering that women and men have different perspectives when faced with a problem and because of this, there is a qualitative aspect of the increased business value of a more diverse workforce.

At the coalface, or rather on the factory and plant floor, this has led to some change. Traditional heavy engineering that was seen as a male-only job has given way to newer technologies and branches of engineering that provide opportunities for both men and women.

As a result of these new technologies and new roles, the media has begun changing the stereotypes of industrial employment and portraying both women and men as successful engineers.

These women act as role models and the importance of this cannot be understated.  The same Subcon research found that better outreach and a higher profile of female engineering leaders would be the best tactics to increasing the numbers of female engineers. I know it has made a difference to me.

Whilst the good news is that at ground level, there is more being done to promote and recruit women in engineering, there is still the issue of the leaky pipeline that sends very few women to top positions. Improving the availability of flexible working patterns, a return to work programme and improved tax or childcare incentives are the top three most effective ways to fix this.  As a bonus, it would accelerate the return of the 20,000 women who have left engineering to have children and wish to come back to the industry.

Increasing the number of female engineers is not just about the issue of diversity. It is now vital to the competitive profile of UK engineering, design and manufacturing industries and, as a female engineering apprentice I hope to see a lot more girls on the floor and in the boardroom throughout industry.