On 23 June, we celebrate International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED22) with this year’s theme of ‘Inventors and Innovators’.
Led by the Women’s Engineering Society, INWED is an international awareness day to support, inspire and raise the profile of women in engineering.
Interestingly, the percentage of women in engineering varies significantly across the world and if you consider some our home territories just 16.5%1 of engineering roles in the UK are filled by women; 13%2 in the US; 14%3 in Australia; and 18%4 in Canada, which contrasts with much higher numbers in Germany (33%5) and in Belgium (45%5).
The power of role models and STEM outreach
If people feel that engineering is not for them due to perceived stereotypes, then we and other engineering companies miss out on a wealth of talent. For example, in the US it is predicted that we will need 140,000 new engineering jobs between 2016-20266 and in the UK there is a projected annual demand of 124,000 engineers annually between 2014-20247. A focus on diversity and inclusion is therefore vital for innovation. This short video from Inspiring the Future shows just how young some gender stereotypes about careers can be formed, and illustrates the impact of diverse role models.
One way that we can play a part in breaking down stereotypes is to add our voices and be role models, bringing to life examples of how engineering can provide solutions to real world problems. Our STEM outreach and volunteering programmes are a great way for our colleagues to do this, enabling them to share resources and ideas across the group and get involved in our outreach and volunteering activities. Our employee-led Gender Balance network also supports our drive for diversity and inclusion through its focused efforts to make QinetiQ an inclusive and great place to work.
How we’re celebrating INWED
As part of our celebrations for INWED, on 22 June in the UK we welcomed 60 girls from local primary and secondary schools in Surrey and Hampshire to our Farnborough site. They met with our engineers, including female role models, and learned about real world applications of virtual reality, simulation, electron propulsion in our ion engines, used for long distance space travel X-rays and properties of materials, and problem solving and communication skills in team challenges.
Today, 23 June, we were joined by Dr Emma Egging OBE, CEO of the Jon Egging Trust (JET), for an inspiring Q&A session with Dr Sam Healy. JET, one of our key outreach partners, is a STEM outreach charity that inspires and supports young people by helping them to overcome adversity, identify their strengths and work towards their dreams. Emma discussed the role of JET and the impact that partnerships with businesses like ours can have to support and inspire disadvantaged young people to consider roles in engineering.
Alongside this, we’re profiling the best and brightest women in engineering at QinetiQ. We’re immensely proud to recognise all the great work our female colleagues have delivered in providing real-world solutions to complex scientific and mathematical questions.
By celebrating our own on IWED22, we hope to play our part in encouraging the growth of women within the engineering sector. As part of this spotlight, please take time to read the experiences of Natalie Taylor and Becky Walsh, who talk about their interest in engineering, the biggest hurdles they’ve had to overcome and the best advice they have for aspiring women engineers. Thanks to people like Natalie and Becky, they ensure that QinetiQ maintains itself as a world leading centre of excellence in engineering expertise.
Our colleagues in Australia have also been shining a spotlight on some of our female engineers on their LinkedIn page; highlighting what a career in engineering means to them and the opportunities available.
Engaging across our sector
On Monday 20th June we hosted a round table virtual discussion for the Diversity and Inclusion leads from across the defence sector, as well the gender balance network leads.
This is part of our regular meetings of the Defence & Aerospace Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (DAEDI) Network, which we co-founded with Matra, BAe Dynamics and Alenia (MBDA) and has been a very valuable sources of ideas and inspiration. The theme of the session was the role of gender balance networks in supporting girls and women in STEM.
In Australia, we continue to support activities which encourage young girls to consider STEM careers and, as a STEM Decadal Plan Champion, we maintain alignment of our gender equity plan with Australia’s Women in STEM Decadal Plan.
Supporting Diversity and Inclusion within innovation
We are delighted to annually support the Women in Defence UK Awards, as we believe this provides a great opportunity to showcase the vital contribution of women and recognise champions and role models who promote gender balance in our sector. With innovation at the heart of our business, we know that promoting diversity is essential to innovation and creativity, so we are proud to once again sponsor the Innovation & Creativity award in 2022. We believe that collaborating across defence through Women in Defence is a positive way to collectively drive change and enabling women to go from strength to strength.
The role of our Professional Bodies
Over the last few years we have also been involved with the Royal Academy of Engineering’s (RAE) Diversity and Inclusion programme. On Tuesday 21 June Cathy Kane, Director Transformation Maritime & Land, and Sophie Connolly, Applied Science Graduate joined the RAE for a special event, bringing together senior women and those early in their careers to promote Women in Engineering. The Royal Academy’s CEO, Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, chaired a discussion with Elspeth Finch MBE FREng, CEO of IAND, which was followed by an audience Q&A session.
How to support
People all over the globe can help to raise the profile of women engineers and encourage more people to consider engineering as a profession for all. You can also show your support on social media using hashtags #INWED21 and #ImagineTheFuture. Selfie templates can be found here.
- Women’s Engineering Society
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Engineers Australia 2019
- Engineers Canada 2019
- Eurostat 2019
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018
- Engineering UK 2019