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Insights What does more women in engineering mean for the wider industry

The landscape of engineering is changing. Not only are we seeing an increase in the use of technology, innovation, and sustainability in the industry, but we are also seeing more women entering the field.

Despite the progress made toward gender equality over the last few years, and an increase in the number of women entering engineering, there is still work to be done. We need to make the discipline more appealing and by doing so, it will filter through to the wider industry, enabling a truly inclusive, open, and equal culture.

At AtkinsRéalis, equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) are not just buzzwords; we are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive culture where everyone can be their true self. We aren’t perfect, but we’re devoted to developing the diversity of our teams, promoting an inclusive culture, and providing everyone with an equal voice. Our aims for the coming years are to remove all barriers, to embed ED&I into our culture just as Health & Safety and integrity are, to ensure all staff are confident in raising ED&I issues, and to be a respected voice both inside and outside of our sector to accelerate change.

female in engineering

Striving for gender diversity in engineering

Women represent half of the world’s population, bringing a diversity of thought and innovative solutions to complex challenges in all industries and aspects of life. Yet in engineering, women are significantly underrepresented. Analysis from EngineeringUK shows that only 14.5% of those working in engineering roles are female. Whilst it is encouraging to see an increase from the 12% reported in 2018, we still need to tap into the talent that women offer, and as an industry, work harder to strive for true equality.

At AtkinsRéalis in India, Sindhu, Sarika, and Manisha are paving a way for our future women engineers. Sindhu says that early in her career, she missed out on opportunities for certain assignments with other companies because men were chosen over women. However, she says that as times have changed, there is a wider acknowledgement of the talent and skills that women bring to the discipline. The industry certainly is overcoming stereotypical challenges, and it is encouraging to see these women inspiring the next generation. More women in engineering will mean more role models for future generations.

How is the industry changing?

Engineering benefits everyone, it is a stimulating career choice that provides enormous societal value, so it is, therefore, crucial that it reflects the diverse societies it serves. Society is evolving, and we are seeing shifts to many age-old traditions and stereotypes. For instance, historically men have received less paternity leave after the birth of a child, making it difficult for many women to return to work sooner. However, this is changing, and companies are becoming more accommodating to family life, particularly in the wake of the pandemic after it was recognised that it is possible to balance both work and family life efficiently.

Saudi Arabia has long been known for its gender imbalance, particularly within construction. However, the country is experiencing a socio-economic transformation led by Saudi Vision 2030 which is shaping the country’s workforce. His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman was eager to encourage more women to pursue employment, spurring significant policy changes. Canada, conversely, is a country that is known to be vastly multicultural and diverse, yet it is taking even more steps to engineer a more diverse workplace by launching a new package of measures designed to establish a ‘culture of inclusiveness that will address systemic barriers in the public sector, including recruitment and mentoring schemes’.

At AtkinsRéalis , women are empowered to succeed and lead change in the industry. Tiffany, for example, is the Associate Director for Tunnels and Ground Engineering in Hong Kong and a mother of two. The industry has certainly come a long way since she was a graduate engineer, as she says back then contractors believed that if women entered tunnels before break-through, they would bring bad luck. Thankfully times have changed, and she says that the key to her success has been to fully equip herself with skills, always staying one step ahead of her peers.

How can we encourage more women to pursue engineering?

The benefits that women bring to the industry are endless. By demonstrating how attractive the discipline is, the value it brings to society, and how inclusive and accommodating it can be for all people, more women will be inspired to engage in engineering. Finty pursued engineering because she always enjoyed maths and mechanical maths, so for her, it made sense to join the world of engineering, but when hearing that women were underrepresented, it urged her on even more.

One of the biggest crises threatening the world today is climate change and mitigating its damages by implementing more sustainable initiatives in the built environment. The World Economic Forum state that building a more sustainable world will require more women engineers. We agree, so we’re taking steps to ensure women are given equal opportunities as both diversity and inclusion, and sustainable development for the future are fundamental to us. Ensuring that everyone feels encouraged to share their ideas isn't just the right thing to do, we believe it drives innovation and improvement.

Engineer a sustainable future at AtkinsRéalis where equality really matters

At AtkinsRéalis , we truly care about creating a workplace where everyone feels included. It doesn't start and end with gender diversity. To truly encourage diversity and inclusion in engineering, we need to look at creating opportunities for people with a disability, people from underrepresented cultures, and the LGBT+ community. We believe that people from all backgrounds have something unique to offer, so we make sure that everyone has an equal voice. We are committed to respecting and empowering our people and creating an environment where everyone is encouraged to contribute.

If you are looking for a challenging but rewarding career within an inclusive company, browse our civil engineering jobs today and help us make positive changes in the world.