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What can women bring to the world of engineering?

Spoiler alert: a lot! To put it in a nutshell, women bring diversity, and diversity helps generate new ideas for solving problems. But that’s not all…

It’s clear to see the engineering sector is far from being a level playing field – so there’s no surprise that leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the shift in diversity that needs to happen. As someone who recruits engineers for leading Automotive organisations, I see first-hand how few women are in the industry, and how difficult it can be for them to break into it.

Since joining FMC in August last year, I’ve spoken to less than ten female engineers… and that’s not for want of trying. I recently wrote about the past, present and future of women in engineering and looked at how we’re starting to make strides into making engineering a more inclusive career for anyone interested in it, regardless of gender.

So, what can women bring to the world of engineering?

To put it into a nutshell, women bring diversity, and diversity helps generate new ideas for solving problems.

And this is scientifically proven! Rebecca Shambaugh, CEO of consulting firm Shambaugh Leadership, said in an interview with Dice News: “Research on the brain essentially shows that men tend to primarily use the left hemisphere of their brain, while women tend to use both the left and right hemispheres.

“Since a man’s brain functions are dominant on the left, he is more likely to rely on logic-based thinking and fact-based approaches and have a more detailed orientation. Women, who use both hemispheres, are more likely to have a broader perspective and big-picture orientation.”

As more women enter the engineering field, it is essential for companies to welcome and value their contributions. With a diverse workforce comes a huge range of benefits such as new perspectives, ideas and skills, which can in turn lead to increased innovation and creativity. And that’s not the only positive…

Getting the ball rolling

One massive benefit of women getting into engineering is that more will follow – women engineers lead to more women engineers! There was a rise of 374,000 women working in engineering roles between 2010 and 2021, putting the proof in the pudding that the industry is slowly but surely attracting a broader range of candidates.

Hiring women can also actually help to attract more engineers in general – many candidates nowadays value employers that place diversity high on their agenda. By actively hiring from a diverse pool, organisations create an inclusive culture where all employees feel valued and respected.

And not just at entry level…

Women make up 16.5% of all engineers, but very few of these women sit at CTO, CIO or CEO level. With 91% of engineers in the top career grade being men, more women work in lower-paid jobs – resulting in a gender pay gap of 11%. To close the gender pay gap, women need to be distributed throughout the company in the same manner as men.

It’s vital to break gender bias business-wide – creating true gender diversity is much more than just ticking boxes by hiring women at lower levels. Hiring more women across the board will not only result in an increase in women in leadership positions but will make an organisation more appealing to female candidates no matter the level.

Women are highly valued and supported

Because women are often underrepresented in certain specialisations compared to their male counterparts, their presence is often highly valued and appreciated. As an illustration, the European Commission actively promotes sourcing extensively from its pool of female talents for scientific policies among its member states. Women are recognised for their proficiency in problem-solving, confronting challenges head-on and resourcefully seeking solutions.

Impact on society

It has been observed that women often choose specific fields of study or professional activities based on the impact they have on social issues. The role of an engineer actively contributes to addressing and resolving significant societal challenges. By bringing the diverse perspectives, thoughts and ideas of women I previously referenced to the table, organisations can make a much bigger social impact on the worlds they work within.

Positive teamwork

A lot of organisations in the engineering industry are home to highly talented teams encompassing various sectors and nationalities – making for inspiring and innovative working environments. By organisations continuing to diversify teams, employees are able to enjoy continuous opportunities to enhance and refine their skills. Women are also recognised for their dedication to not cutting corners – making them valuable team members and effective leaders.

What do you think the future of engineering holds for women? If you’re a woman in engineering looking to make your next career move, or would simply like to share your experience, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at erin.sheridan@fmctalent.com.

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