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National Women in Engineering Day: Teenage girls should be empowered to pursue careers in engineering, says Lucy Ackland from Gloucestershire business Renishaw

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Written by: Gloucester Citizen & Gloucestershire Echo | Posted 22 June 2015 20:23

National Women in Engineering Day: Teenage girls should be empowered to pursue careers in engineering, says Lucy Ackland from Gloucestershire business Renishaw

Over-representation of males in engineering could create “boys’ clubs” in the workplace according to a woman who has earned award-winning recognition in the industry.

With today being National Women in Engineering Day, Lucy Ackland, a project manager in Renishaw’s group engineering operation, has spoken out about the problems facing females entering the industry.

She said teenage girls should be “empowered” to pursue careers in engineering.

“National Women in Engineering Day is an appropriate time to reflect on the current number of women in engineering,” she explained.

“Figures from the IET and Engineering UK state that our nation has the lowest proportion of female engineers in Europe, at just six per cent, compared to leading countries with 30 per cent. If this continues the UK will be unable to find the 1.82million people with engineering skills that employers will need by 2022.”

Among factors for the low percentage was what she called “the shocking fact” that 46 per cent of schools in England did not send a single girl on to study A-level physics in 2011, according to the Institute of Physics.

She added: “The ambassadorial position I have been embracing has enabled me to talk to a large number of girls aged 14 to 17 and the message I keep hearing is ‘I’m no good at science’.

“The challenge is to find ways of empowering these girls to believe in themselves.

The problem of over representation of males in the workplace meant it was not always a comfortable place for a woman to be.”

People needed to “work harder to create an inclusive working environment that everyone feels comfortable to be a part of”, she said.

It had been estimated 22,000 qualified women had not returned to the engineering sector after a maternity or career break, “a huge number”, considering how few women actually worked in engineering.

“These are trained engineers that we can ill afford to lose when facing such a drastic skills shortage,” Ms Ackland explained.

“I will continue to work hard to spread my message in my efforts to help change outdated engineering stereotypes,” she said.

See jobs news at jobs.gloucestershireecho.co.uk

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