3 barriers to female engineers progressing into senior positions.

In our study of almost 500 engineering industry workers, 47% had never had a female manager. These findings are reflective of an industry where only eight percent of employees are female. But what are the barriers that women are facing and how can we begin to make the world of engineering more inclusive and diverse?

Male dominated culture

When asked why women might leave the sector, one in five said that a male-dominated culture was a large driver behind this. 15% said that a culture change would also increase the likelihood of women remaining in the sector, suggesting a desire to move away from the hyper-masculinity that is often found in traditionally male dominated workplaces.

Too few female role models

It was found that women exiting the industry can be influenced by a lack of inspirational figures, with 13% of respondents pointing towards having too few female role models - This makes it more difficult for women to aspire to senior positions because they don’t have clear pathways.


Half of the female respondents said they had experienced gender discrimination in their employment and 11% said that discrimination was a driver in women leaving the workforce which suggests there are still forms of prejudice which need to be stamped out in engineering. 

Furthermore, 31% experienced either having been offered a less important role or being passed over for promotions or big projects. A factor that employers need to consider in the recruitment and selection process is unconscious bias. Often without realising it is happening, managers are quick to hire in their own image, and tend to be drawn to people that are similar to them. Organisations need to promote ways to ensure a more diverse and inclusive workforce; paving the way for the future.

What needs to change? 

When asked what might persuade women to either join or remain in the industry, one in five said equal pay and 17% said a culture change.

13% believed better mentoring is required and 31% said their employers do not support women in progressing to senior positions.

It is clear that equality in both wages and the work culture are necessary components for making women feel appreciated and accepted in their working environments. This is something that can start with increased visibility of incentives and mentoring programmes to aid progression and help normalise ideas around women in these roles. 

There is no questioning female capabilities as there always have been and always will be brilliant women at the forefront of engineering. It is now time to provide the support and incentives necessary to not only achieve equality, but to prevent an industry already suffering from a skills shortage from losing essential female talent.  

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