Engineering still paints a clichéd image that it’s a dirty, manual and low-paying industry that’s dominated by men. Separating fact from fiction, only one of these statements is actually true.
As demand outstrips supply, the engineering sector provides exciting career opportunities and high salaries for skilled individuals at all levels. Engineering graduates, for example, can expect some of the highest salaries, with mechanical engineering and civil engineering also listed in the top 10 degrees that will get you the highest paying jobs right now.
Engineering is still very much a male-dominated industry, with women only accounting for around eight per cent of the UK’s workforce.
Unfortunately, gender stereotypes from parents are one of the main reasons why not enough females enter the profession. Research from AdWeek suggests that messages such as ‘don’t get your dress dirty’ or ‘don’t mess with that’, whilst only subtle, discourage girls from pursuing male-dominated STEM subjects and future career paths like engineering.
A lack of female role models also plays a big part in the visibility of engineering, with the industry needing more parents, family members, teachers and peers to help influence women into engineering.
Few people, especially parents, actually know what an engineer does day-to-day, with many believing that it involves getting your hands dirty. Engineering involves so many roles that may include on-site work and manual labour, to those that will see you never setting foot outside an office. Take software engineers, for example, who are no more likely to get their hands dirty than an accountant.
Engineers exist in all walks of life from transport and medicine, to the environment. You name it, an engineer has most likely worked on it.
With the UK needing to produce thousands more engineers each year, now’s the time to get on with changing the perception and reality of working in engineering. We can now all agree that engineering isn’t a ‘dirty’ job.