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ICE celebrates National Women in Engineering Day 2015

ICE and its members were busy showcasing civil engineering as a career to women this week, to mark National Women in Engineering Day 2015 on 23 June.

1)	Women engineers working on TFL’s Crossrail project - image from Crossrail Ltd.
1) Women engineers working on TFL’s Crossrail project - image from Crossrail Ltd.

Women represent 10% of ICE’s membership and female applications to ICE are slowly rising, with graduate numbers at 18%. But the UK still has the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe, at less than 10% across all disciplines. Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus lead with nearly 30%.

A range of activities took place on Tuesday 23 June to inspire young women and help industry tackle the barriers to attracting and retaining more women.

ICE West Midlands held an event in Birmingham to discuss whether special measures are needed to help more women succeed, schools activities happened across the country including a ‘zombie challenge’ organised by ICE North East and AMEC Foster Wheeler, where female students learned engineering skills in order to escape the zombies and complete disaster relief exercises.

ICE Wales Cymru teamed up with CIWM on a lecture at Cardiff University with inspirational speakers including the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Skills, Julie James AM. ICE Scotland organised for the Minister for Youth and Women's Employment, Annabelle Ewing MSP to meet female engineers at the Forth Replacement Crossing to help raise the profile of women in engineering.

Female engineers and technicians were also profiled in the media and past Presidents Apprentice Aimi Elias, Project Engineer at Crossrail Liverpool Street, featured in a roundtable discussion in a special supplement in the Independent.

Organisations such as Atkins, Bechtel and TfL celebrated the day through social media campaigns such as #notjustforboys and #IAmAnEngineer and 100 Years of Women in Transport organised a mass photocall on Horse Guards Parade in London on the morning of 23 June.

Crowds gathered at Horse Guards Parade for a mass photo call.
Crowds gathered at Horse Guards Parade for a mass photo call.

The event attracted hundreds of women engineers across all disciplines and broke the Guinness World Record for ‘the most people performing a jumping high five simultaneously’, reflecting the campaign’s theme of ‘high fiving’ the amazing achievements of women in engineering.

ICE Director General, Nick Baveystock, applauded the awareness raising activity across the industry and said the increase in graduate numbers was encouraging, but added that efforts needed to continue.

“The reality is that there are still more male than female engineers, so we must do more, and collaboration between industry and institutions is critical to success.” he said.

“Engineering solutions are best delivered by multi-disciplinary teams of men and women working creatively together, so there is a commercial as well as a social imperative to right the imbalance, and industry must make its case.

“Schools also have a duty to lead the drive in overcoming outdated perceptions about careers in engineering and ensure they are accessible to all.”

Further National Women in Engineering Day reading:

Kate Matthews, completed her Technician Review with ICE earlier this year, following a two year technician apprenticeship scheme at ARUP. She talks about her role as an engineer in an article on the Infrastructure Intelligence website.

Julie Wood, an ICE Fellow and Director and Global Leader of Project Management at engineering consultancy Arup talks about Women in STEM in the Independent supplement.

Yvonne Murphy, a Chartered Engineer and Member of ICE writes in the Huffington Post about increasing the awareness of engineering careers.