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Insights How the influx of the Middle East's women engineers can transform a male-dominated industry

The engineering landscape is shifting. Not only are we seeing more women entering the area, but we're also seeing a rise in the use of technology, innovation, and sustainability.

Throughout the world, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have typically been male orientated professions. Despite recent progression, just 27% of STEM professionals across the globe are female, representing a wide gender disparity in these industries. However, figures show that there is a transition underway, with more women obtaining engineering degrees and entering the working world, particularly in the Middle East.

Here, we discuss how the engineering industry is changing and what more women mean for engineering in the Middle East.

Two Middle Eastern female engineers collaborating on construction design in an office setting.

How the industry is changing

A high level of engineering is beneficial to people from all walks of life as it contributes to better environments, technology and quality of life for us all. Engineering is a rewarding career choice that offers enormous value to society, so it is imperative that it is an accurate reflection of the diverse communities it serves.

As society evolves, we are seeing a change in many antiquated traditions and are contributing to paving a way for more a progressive culture. For example, in previous years, Saudi Arabia has built a reputation for having a workforce gender imbalance, particularly within engineering and construction. However, a socio-economic transformation is underway, driven by Saudi Vision 2030, which is shaping the country’s new generation of workers.

Additionally, In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a series of national priorities have been established as part of Vision 21, including ‘ Sustainable environment and infrastructure’ and gender equality in the workplace. Many Middle Eastern nations are focusing on improving air quality, expanding clean energy contributions in the built environment, and implementing green growth strategies. As a result, creative engineers, both men and women, are needed to produce designs for long-term buildings and infrastructure that will ensure a secure, sustainable future.

Middle East’s diverse workforce

The Middle East has traditionally generated its wealth by tapping into its vast oil reserves; however, as the globe moves toward a more sustainable future, the area has begun to explore new ways to enhance its economy. The empowerment of women in the Middle East is at the heart of the region’s transformation, with far-reaching social and economic goals. According to UNESCO, 34-57% of STEM graduates in Arab countries are women, while the figures in the UK and USA were 16% and 14% respectively.

Men and women collaborating together on prominent engineering projects have played a big role in companies hiring and promoting based on their merit as opposed to their gender. Women play a crucial role in moulding our society's perception of engineering as a viable career for women in the Middle East by demonstrating determination and dedication.

How can we encourage more women to pursue engineering?

Women bring a plethora of advantages to the sector and can contribute to a more diverse range of methods and ideas than we currently have in the engineering industry. As the number of female engineers increases, more women will be inspired to pursue engineering by demonstrating how appealing the field is, the value it adds to society, and how inclusive and accommodating it can be for all people.

We agree with a completely diverse environment, so we're taking steps to ensure that women have equal chances, because inclusion, as well as long-term development, is important to us. We believe that encouraging everyone to share their ideas is not only the correct thing to do, but it also fosters innovation and development.

Why equality, diversity and inclusion matter to us

We make sure that everyone has a voice at AtkinsRéalis . We believe in valuing and empowering our employees, as well as fostering an environment that encourages everyone to participate. Our values mean that encouraging everyone to share their ideas is not only the correct thing to do, but it also fosters innovation and development. As a result, we're continuously on the lookout for ways to broaden our talent pools.

We are committed to developing and maintaining an inclusive culture where everyone can be their genuine self. Equality, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) are imperative to us; we are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive culture where everyone can be their authentic self. 

Our goals for the next few years are to break down all barriers, to integrate ED&I into our culture in the same way that health and safety and integrity are, to ensure that all employees are comfortable raising ED&I concerns, and to be a respected voice both inside and outside of our industry to accelerate change.

Apply for our range of engineering jobs today and learn more about equality, diversity and inclusion at AtkinsRéalis .