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Jo Foster

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager at the Institution of Engineering and Technology

From space exploration and autonomous vehicles, to advancements in healthcare and sustainable energy – engineers are inventing new ways to do things and finding solutions that will make this world a better place.

The opportunities are endless, and the industry is always evolving, but there is still a lack of understanding about what engineering and technology truly entails and the sector is suffering from a huge image problem. The stereotype of a typical engineer among school children is a white, middle-aged man.

Our research, conducted among a representative sample of 9 to 16-year-olds, revealed they see an engineer as white (51%), middle aged (31%) male (67%), with glasses (40%) and a beard (27%). In terms of the tools of the trade “he” might have at his disposal, 44% thought an engineer would wear a hard hat and 40% thought he’d wear a high-vis jacket.

Sadly, less than one in ten (9%) children imagine engineers to be a woman. And, it seems this outdated stereotyping is being passed down from their parents.

Challenging the stereotype

To dispel these stereotypes, the Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards celebrates women working in modern engineering. As well as highlighting female engineering talent, these awards seek to find role models who can help address the UK science and engineering skills crisis by promoting engineering careers to more girls and women. Just 12% of those working in engineering occupations are women (source: Engineering UK).

I am proud to be recognised through this prestigious award and I hope to use it as a positive catalyst to drive for more women and diversity in engineering.

Ying Wan Loh, IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2019

In December, Ying Wan Loh was named IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2019 (pictured). As a Manufacturing Engineer at Rolls-Royce, she analyses production data and carries out improvement projects to reduce defects. Ying also looks after the complex aerospace supply chain to ensure the company achieve quality and delivery on time.

Where a career in STEM can take you

Ying is, today, calling on her fellow young female engineers across the UK to enter the 2020 awards.

She said: “Winning the YWE award has provided me with a national and international platform to share my story. I have since gained some great exposure and expanded my professional network considerably.

“I’ve had the opportunity to appear on TV, radio and podcasts, as well as being invited to speak at various events across Europe. The opportunities I’ve had already demonstrates how winning the award has substantially increased the reach and impact of my STEM engagements and volunteering. I’ve also connected with many high-achieving and inspiring women in the industry, both within my company and externally.

“Overall, it has been a wonderful experience so far which I will always be grateful for. Engineering is dynamic and exciting, and I am so glad to be in a position to share this with students and wider society. I am proud to be recognised through this prestigious award and I hope to use it as a positive catalyst to drive for more women and diversity in engineering.”

The deadline for entries to the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards is 5 July 2020. For more information, visit:
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is one of the world’s largest engineering bodies to promote engineering, particularly among young people, helping them to see that engineering provides an exciting, creative and rewarding career option.

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