Women - we don't engineer with them, can't engineer without them!

Written by: Tim Fryer | Published:

It is no surprise that Naomi Climer will use her year as President of the IET, which will commence in the autumn of 2015 to highlight diversity issues. She will, after all, be the first woman to have held the post in its 143 year history. As a country we produce around half the number of engineering graduates that it is predicted we need - and enticing the female half of the population to embrace engineering is an obvious step to take in solving the problem. But she stressed that although this is important, it is not the only thing on her agenda.

A full account of the interview with Naomi will be featured in the January 2015 issue of Eureka, but the essence of her mission is in upping the profile of engineering - not just to girls, but to boys as well. And their parents, their teachers and in fact any member of the public.

She told me: "In California [where she works], engineers are absolute rock stars. I think it has improved a lot in the UK but it isn't quite the same. It doesn't feel like engineering as a career is as prestigious as it ought to be considering the range of job opportunities and the sheer diversity of what you can do. If you want to make a difference in the world then engineering and technology is a very good place to be in order to do that."

I am sure everyone in the Eureka community would echo those sentiments, but sentiments themselves are not going to change public perceptions. The critical age for children (of any gender) is around 11 - 14, according to Climer. It is at this age that they will be influenced to take the subjects that will define their career options. As a broad generalisation, if they are not interested in STEM subjects at this age they are likely to be lost to the world of technology. The IET is therefore supporting Engineering UK in a bid to expose all children of this age to engineering - through school visits from local companies, individual mentoring, helping to run robotics/coding clubs, company open days and so on.

This is where sentiments could be usefully translated into actions. Any volunteers?

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