International Women in Engineering Day 2024

25 June 2024

Over the last few days we have been celebrating International Women in Engineering Day. It began in the UK in 2014 as a national campaign from the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). Celebrated on the 23rd of June annually, it has grown enormously, receiving UNESCO patronage in 2016 and going global following year.

As they mark the 11th anniversary, this year’s theme is #EnhancedbyEngineering. We all have personal experience of how engineering enhances our lives and the lives of others. However, in 2021, figures indicated that only 16.5% of engineers in the UK are women, highlighting the obstacles that women still face in engineering careers.

Even today when asked to imagine an engineer, most people picture a man wearing a hard hat or working at a desk. This speaks to the unconscious bias that still prevails in society. For a young girl, aspiring to become an engineer, this can lead to questioning whether women are welcome in the field.

One of the real issues we discussed was the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for women in the engineering and construction sectors, even after decades of discussion about the need. The belief that there won’t be many women working on site has led to an expectation that women will just wear men’s PPE.

The unavailability of gloves, boots, hats, and goggles in appropriate sizes reflects that women’s needs have been neglected. It’s important to recognise that women have different body shapes and sizes compared to men. This means that standard PPE may not always provide the best fit for women, which can affect comfort and, more importantly, safety. The unavailability of suitable PPE also poses a significant issue in terms of religious beliefs for some.

In conclusion, ensuring that women have access to well-fitting and appropriate PPE is not just about comfort; it’s about safety and effectiveness. While the situation is gradually improving with increased awareness, it is important to recognize many such seemingly small issues collectively contribute to making women feel unwelcome in the construction industry.

By addressing these needs, we can create safer and more diverse workplaces where all employees, regardless of gender, can perform their jobs confidently and securely.

INWED gives women engineers around the world a profile when they are still hugely under-represented. As the only platform of its kind, it plays a vital role in encouraging more young women and girls to take up engineering careers. As a company and individuals, we will continue to work to encourage young minds with STEM visits, improving female representation and sharing our stories to inspire more.

To celebrate INWED, CampbellReith invited everyone (engineers and non-engineers and irrespective of gender) to participate in an engineering challenge to see who could keep a marble rolling for the longest time. You can see from the pictures that, using cardboard, sellotape and/or glue and a whole load of ingenuity, our six teams across the whole Practice devised the most amazing marble runs!

Congratulations to Team 1 in our London office on winning with a roll time of 14.72 seconds!