Eight talented young female engineers have reached the national finals of the sector’s elite competition to be held at the Skills Show at the NEC in Birmingham next month (November).
Semta, the national organising partner for the engineering WorldSkills UK competitions, representing more than 148,000 companies, has been campaigning to break down gender barriers and increase the number of women engineers working in industry.
The ‘great eight’ represents a significant breakthrough for the cause, as there were just four females in a group of more than a hundred in last year’s finals – representing a 100% increase.
No less than 44 per cent of the women that entered the 2016 regional heats were awarded a place in the final – compared to 39 per cent of men.
All finalists have risen to the challenge having completed the required tasks in the regional heats and are now battling to be the nation’s best.
Ann Watson, CEO of Semta, said: “This is a major milestone and testament to the work that we are doing to encourage females to enter both the sector and competitions – but it only goes to underline the scale of the problem.
“There is still much work in terms of re-educating parents, teachers and careers advisors.
”However, this does show that female engineers who enter the industry can compete at a very elite level.
“The only barriers in the way of creating more women engineers are ignorance, misinformation and outmoded gender stereotypes.
“In order to close the skills gap – it is an absolute necessity for huge numbers of women to pursue a career in the sector. Why should the majority of women miss out on an extremely exciting, rewarding career? Why should the nation not benefit from utilising their true potential?”
Among the disciplines practised by the female finalists are: Aeronautical Engineering: Avionic, Robotics, Industrial Electronics, CNC Turning, Mechatronics and the Manufacturing Team Challenge.
The winners of the national finals in November will be considered for selection to Team UK – with the chance to represent their country at WorldSkills International in Kazan, Russia in 2019.