In a book I’m currently reading, which is set in 1940s London, a young, aspiring girl proclaims to her mother that she wants to go to university to study physics, to which her mother replies: “Why? After all, women’s highest calling is to be a mother and a wife.”
Thank god attitudes have changed. Or have they?
A recent survey conducted by the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (QEPrize), which recently launched its £1 million engineering prize (read our earlier post), shows that engineering still suffers from an image problem, especially among the parents of girls.
Conducted amongst parents of girls aged 5 – 18 years, the survey (which can be read in full here) reveals that only one in 10 parents say that science and engineering are frequently discussed in their home.
Less than half of parents have encouraged their daughters to consider a career in science or engineering, despite the majority saying that a career in engineering would suit their daughter well.
The QEPrize Foundation was actually founded in 2011 following a growing realisation of the need for a pioneering initiative to focus attention on how vital engineering is to all our lives. So having as many engineers, of whatever sex, enter the profession is very important to them.
As the QEPrize Foundation chairman, Lord Browne of Madingley, says:
“From large-scale infrastructure to medical technology, engineers’ achievements transform every aspect of our daily lives. Our research shows that parents are reluctant for their daughters to enter the field of engineering, believing that other subjects offer them better opportunities.
“The Queen Elizabeth Prize aims to make heroes and heroines out of the engineers who are behind the world’s greatest innovations, demonstrating that engineering can offer a rich and rewarding career to both men and women.”
To encourage girls to take up engineering the Foundation has filmed a range of short videos with female engineers (including Abigail Hatty, whose photo features at the top of this post), which can be viewed on the Foundation’s Create the Future campaign website.
Please tweet with hashtag #createthefuture and let’s make future engineers out of our girls (and boys, of course).