Tomorrow (Friday 23rd June) is International Women in Engineering Day, celebrating the amazing careers and achievements of women in the sector. Schneider Electric, the energy management and automation company puts diversity high on its agenda, being a central supporter of the HeForShe solidarity campaign and putting change management programmes in place within its own organisation.

Tanuja Randery, Zone President UK & Ireland offers comment on the state of the sector and what’s needed to see change, below. Schneider Electric was recently named one of LinkedIn’s Global Top 25 Companies to work for and Tanuja can offer her views on why engineering companies are some of the most sought-after places to work.

“In the UK, women are under-represented in many different areas, particularly in the engineering and technology industries, which have historically been considered the domain of men. Yet businesses are missing a big opportunity. According to research from McKinsey, bridging the UK gender gap in work has the potential to create an extra £150 billion by 2025.

“What’s more, STEM is the industry with the poorest representation of women in the UK. As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, these disciplines hold the key to powering UK prosperity, but this is under threat unless we supply talent – and fast. Its long been known that STEM has an image problem. There is a false perception of careers in engineering – its seen as too geeky or that the average engineer or technician wears grubby overalls and sports a hard hat.  There’s a need to rebrand and improve young women’s understanding of engineering and its related industries to encourage the uptake of careers in the field.

“Industry leaders need to take on the role of STEM ambassadors at schools and universities. In our businesses, we need to change our policies, job descriptions and address unconscious bias. If you want to inspire a diverse group to come and work for you, you need to support and promote role models that tomorrow’s leaders looking into the organisation can relate to.

“There’s an argument for implementing quotas within engineering businesses. We have targets for everything in our lives, from our home budgets to wanting to become a CEO in 20 years, and from sales to employee engagement. Why not put quotas in place for female representation within specific fields? We’ve done this at Schneider Electric and we’re on track to achieving a goal of increasing female representation by 40 percent in new recruitments and 30 percent in key positions by 2017, when women should account for a third of Executive Committee seats.

“We must inspire young people about the diverse and rewarding career potential that an engineering-based career path offers. Working in STEM means you can help tackle some of the world’s greatest problems. At Schneider Electric, we believe access to energy is a basic human right and that is something we are working hard towards achieving at a global level.”