Women don’t talk Engineering

If the world of public speaking is an indicator of public interests then women and engineering just don’t mix.

Women Speakers has a roster of guest speakers upon which to call. 293 highly articulate women able to present and discuss diverse subjects across 109 categories –  from art and history to gardening, education, fashion, health, business etc.  Yet nowhere does an engineer or engineering feature.

Granted there are commentators with a science background but their focus tends to be around planet earth’s issues such as ecology and global warming.

We, in the developed world, are surrounded by technology and engineering that just a few generations ago would have been inconceivable. Even the future thinkers of your great, great grandparent’s era could not have imagined the world in which many of us live today be it cooking a meal, travel, shopping, being entertained or recovering in hospital –  I could go on.

The engineering that supports our society is now just taken for granted – until it breaks down!

Two points can be deduced – firstly a general lack of interest in engineering across the country and secondly a dearth of women engineers willing to talk about their subject in a relaxed and informative manner.

However it is wrong to say that only women engineers are failing to step up to the mark.

A recent report by the ERA foundation launched at the Royal Academy of Engineering emphasises that engineers in general are poor at promoting themselves and their work.

How can we encourage more teenagers to get into engineering if their peers are failing to present what they do in a tangible way that captures the imagination of the young.

And for those articulate women with a scientific background; perhaps our engineering establishment should be encouraging them to delve deeper into the subject and use their valuable communication talents to convey engineering’s importance  to society.


 Barrie Weaver June 2014