Number of women in engineering declining, especially at senior levels

Engineering is going backwards in its efforts to make itself more inclusive, a worrying new report has revealed.

The EngineeringUK Women in Engineering report has concluded that in 2023 there were 6.3 million people working in engineering and technology occupations, accounting for 19.2% of the UK workforce.

However, the number of women working in engineering and technology had actually dropped by 38,000, from 16.5% of the 2022 workforce to 15.7% of the 2023 workforce.

Even more worrying, this fall was being driven by a decline of 66,000 between the ages of 35 to 64.

This indicates women are not being retained by organisations, EngineeringUK said, with progression of experienced female engineers into more senior roles especially likely to be affected.

This was despite the fact that in 2023 there were more women entering engineering and technology occupations in the 16- to 34-age groups, in other words straight from education and training.

Dr Hilary Leevers, EngineeringUK’s chief executive, said the profession needed to be taking this ‘small but significant’ decline ‘very seriously’.

‘The sector as a whole needs to better understand why women are leaving and work harder to improve their retention, including creating opportunities for those who have left the profession to return,’ she added.

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