THE trade association for the UK’s glass industry is behind a new initiative to encourage the next generation of women to consider careers in engineering and manufacturing.
The Sheffield-based British Glass Manufacturers’ Confederation launched its Women in Manufacturing (WiM) initiative at the House of Commons this week.
Set up as a sub-project of British Glass’ training and skills development arm, The Glass Academy, and with the support of The Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London, WiM is a not-for-profit initiative aiming to bring about a shift in the thinking of industry’s senior people.
The scheme seeks to ensure women are attracted into engineering and manufacturing, as well as being supported and retained in the industry. Dave Dalton, CEO at British Glass and The Glass Academy, said: “Modern manufacturing and engineering is a technologically advanced and innovative sector in which to work. However, young girls and women are not inspired to take up STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) related studying or careers.
“Initiatives like this are crucial in helping to dispel pre-conceived ideas about what jobs in engineering and manufacturing are in reality and to encourage the next generation of women to consider these sectors as career paths.”
In the UK, fewer than one in ten STEM managers are female and only 8.7 per cent of professional engineers are women.
The UK has the lowest proportion of female engineering professionals across the European Union states; the figures for Sweden and Bulgaria, for example, are 26 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.
The WiM launch event was attended by around 130 high-profile representatives from industry and Government, along with educators and STEM organisations.
This included BT, Siemens, Atkins, TATA Steel, Thales, WISE, The Engineering Society, UCL and the University of Sheffield, as well as students from Notre Dame High School and All Saints High School in Sheffield.
Nadja Swarovski, patron of women in manufacturing and member of the Swarovski executive board, added: “Being a fifth generation member of a glass manufacturing family, I am passionate about engineering and technology, crafting and manufacturing and we need to empower, celebrate and entice more women into this sector.”