National Women in Engineering Day (#NWED2016) is an International awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry.


The current position:

  • The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe at less than 10%. This is less than Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus, who lead with nearly 30%. (IET, 2015)
  • Females represent just 6% of registered engineers and technicians in the UK (IET, 2015)
  • In the US, only 14% of engineers are women (Congressional Joint Economic Committee, 2012)
  • In Australia, 11.8% of women are engineers (Engineers Australia, 2015)
  • In the UK there is little gender difference in take up of, and achievement in core Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) GCSE subjects. However, only 20% of A level physics students are female and this figure hasn’t changed in 25 years (IPPR, 2014)
  • In a 2013 survey of 300 female engineers, 84% were either happy or extremely happy with their career choice (RAEng and Atkins, 2013).

Diversity is crucial for innovation – in a global survey, 85% corporate diversity and talent leaders agreed that ‘A diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation’ (Forbes Insights, 2011).  Have a look at this video that highlights some gender stereotypes that children made of job roles.

beccyWe had a chat with Rebecca Roberts, an NDT tutor at Lavender International, to hear her thoughts about women in engineering:

Rebecca teaches Radiography to a wide range of students from all over the world – the majority being men and only a handful of women during her years at Lavender International.  “I think it is a difficult industry to get into; more so because when you are younger and talk about careers at school, girls are generally pushed towards looking into hairdressing or healthcare roles like nursing and the boys that are pushed towards engineering roles.”

Prior to her NDT life, Rebecca worked as a hairdresser and did not enjoy her job very much.  Rebecca came across NDT by accident, saw it as an opportunity to pursue a different career and hasn’t looked back since.  “I thoroughly enjoy my job and the work that I do.  Working in a male-dominating industry can be challenging at times, but also very rewarding.  Having a female tutor is probably a new experience for many students; when I introduce myself, they often look shocked and comment “but you’re a girl!””

“I think that is good to have women in the industry as it provides different perspectives, it’s good to have diversity within a team.”  However, Rebecca feels that there needs to be more done to encourage women to get into the industry; and more information needs to be provided to younger girls about the industry.

Lavender International has a keen interest in ensuring that the NDT industry is sustainable and continues to grow.  One of the many ways in which it can ensure sustainability and growth is to work in schools and colleges to provide further information and to promote the industry to both girls and boys.  For example, Lavender International attend career fairs – an upcoming event that we will be attending is the careers fair at Sheffield UTC on the 8th July.  The Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing specialism at UTC Sheffield provides students with the knowledge and skills to work across this diverse and growing sector, from aerospace to electrical, from robotics to CAD.  Students learn in state-of-the-art facilities including engineering mini-factories that will simulate the real manufacturing environment.

We are also involved in the “Get up speed” events; which is a chance for young people to see some of the UK’s most exciting engineering inventions, and network with the people who design, build and operate them!

get up to speed

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