Having more women engineers not only makes business sense, but also boosts the economy.
Research show that only 6 per cent of engineers in the UK are women, which I think everyone will agree is not enough.
Having a diverse workforce makes business sense and brings wider economic benefits.
Recent studies have shown that having more women employed in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) industries would contribute another £2bn to the UK economy, so why are we not doing more to make the industry more diverse?
The transport industry has traditionally been seen as a ‘man’s job’, yet women have been actively working in the industry for over a century now.
During the First World War when 17,000 men who worked on the London Underground, bus and Tram network were enlisted, more than 100,000 women joined London’s transport workforce to keep the Capital moving whilst the men were away at war.
“Action to tackle the skills shortage needs to be taken by the industry, the education system and by parents as well as teachers”
Over the last 100 years, more and more women have been taking up significant roles within the transport industry and have been involved in building iconic landmarks such as Waterloo Bridge.
However, more work needs to be done to diversify the industry.
Action to tackle the skills shortage needs to be taken by the industry, the education system and by parents as well as teachers.
Transport for London has started to address the issue by becoming the engineering sponsor of the Royal Greenwich University Technical College in 2013.
The organisation is a non-financial sponsor of the school providing STEM ambassadors who pass on their transport expertise.
TfL has also been celebrating the contributions that women have made in the transport industry over the last century in partnership with Crossrail, the Department for Transport, Network Rail, the Women’s Transportation Seminar and Women’s Engineering Society as well as others in the transport industry.
“This is another opportunity to highlight the skills and diversity gap, and to encourage the industry to take action to ensure that we don’t lose the next generation of engineers”
The celebrations are also designed to inspire and encourage more women to consider a future in the transport sector.
Forming the future
As the company marks the second National Women in Engineering Day, this is another opportunity to highlight the skills and diversity gap, and to encourage the industry to take action to ensure that we don’t lose the next generation of engineers who will design, build and maintain the infrastructure that we will need to cope with the expected population growth.
Transport for London is currently undertaking one of the world’s largest programmes of capital investment, some of the biggest projects the capital has seen, from modernising roads and the Tube network to deliver improved services for customers.
Behind all these projects are female engineers, from civil engineers to technical engineers who are all playing an instrumental role in helping to deliver them.
As an industry, if we do not take action now to diversify the sector by inspiring and encouraging more women to become engineers, then not only will we lose out financially, but we lose the role models for the next generation.
Dana Skelley is director of asset management at Transport for London