Never too late: Profiling female engineering apprentices

Institute of Mechanical Engineers

Since 2010/11, about 500,000 new apprenticeships were started each year, linked to strong support from Government. Yet the percentage of female engineers remains stubbornly low. To provide more insight into the characteristics of women who do choose engineering apprenticeships, in 2017 the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Gatsby Charitable Foundation commissioned the research agency ICM Unlimited to undertake a survey of current and newly qualified female and male engineering apprentices and undergraduates, as well as non-engineering apprentices.

Notably, both female engineering apprentices and female engineering undergraduates often settled on engineering relatively late, compared with their male peers. This suggests that females are less likely than males to be ‘hobbyists’ with a long-standing interest in engineering, but identify it as a suitable career route when considering their potential career destinations. Concerns that girls are being turned off engineering early in life have led to a significant focus on promotional initiatives targeting primary school and early secondary school. The authors argue that many more young women could be interested in becoming engineering apprentices but for them to be “converted” to engineering, there needs to be more support and encouragement later in their school careers.

Download the survey findings here