Flexible working key to retaining women engineers

CIBSE survey also finds sexism to be an issue in education

Flexible working and role models are important for retaining women in engineering, a CIBSE Inclusivity Panel survey has found.

Over a four-week period in 2019, 922 people – of which 75% were male and 25% were female – responded to the survey, which looked at education, careers and company policies, membership and chartership, career breaks, and retention. The results showed that men were 11% more likely to see themselves staying in the engineering profession than women, 55% of whom thought the engineering sector did not retain women.

The top-three initiatives that participants thought would help encourage and retain women in engineering were flexible working, encouraging school children to study engineering, and having role models.

A third of the participants said they had experienced barriers while studying. The most common ones faced by women were sexism, lack of role models, time pressures, and inadequate careers advice. The most common barriers for men were finances, time pressures, irrelevant course content, and availability of courses in the local area.

Inclusivity Panel chair Alexandra Logan said: ‘A common thread through the survey was the need for flexible working arrangements and role models. Businesses may want to consider how they can implement these initiatives into their companies.’

As well as producing the Inclusivity Guidelines – which can be found at cibse.org/inclusivity – the panel will look to: ensure a diverse range of speakers at events; build role-models’ profles; provide a 12-month technical update; and liaise with external groups. If you have comments or suggestions, contact inclusivity@cibse.org