Today is International Women in Engineering Day – a global initiative to raise awareness about the accomplishments, contributions, and challenges women face in engineering. Almost 44% of Ireland's 287,500 scientists and engineers were female in 2021 according to Eurostat. This is a little above the EU average of 41%. Despite this, female engineers are still severely underrepresented in Ireland. According to the latest figures from the Higher Education Authority from 2022, only 23% of the engineering graduates in Ireland were female. Why are More Women Needed in Engineering?With the growing demand for engineers in Ireland, and globally, by tapping into a broader talent pool and attracting more women to engineering, it helps bridge the skills gap and ensures a sustainable pipeline of engineering professionals for the future.Increasing the representation of women in engineering promotes diversity and inclusion in the field. Engineering, like any other profession, benefits from having a wide range of perspectives, ideas, and experiences. Encouraging more women into the field will help to create a more balanced and inclusive work environment.Engineering is a field that requires creative problem solving and innovation. Including more women in engineering brings fresh perspectives and approaches to tackling complex challenges. Diverse teams are more likely to develop innovative solutions and make better decisions by considering a wide range of viewpoints.Main Barriers for Aspiring Female EngineersGender stereotypes and societal expectations often associate STEM fields with masculinity, while the lack of female representation may hinder girls’ aspirations. An unsupportive educational environment can further discourage girls from pursuing STEM. This is backed up by a CWIT study which revealed that 59% of secondary school girls still do not know enough about STEM and 22% of them believe that STEM subjects in school match ‘male careers’. This is why it is so important to encourage young girls in Ireland to embrace subjects like Maths, Science and Engineering during their school years. Providing access to STEM programmes and initiatives at an early stage of their education can play a vital role in fostering their interest in these fields. In Ireland there is still a need to challenge this prevailing stereotype that engineering is primarily a male dominated profession. Traditional gender stereotypes and biases can discourage women from pursuing careers in this field. Society’s perception of engineering as a male dominated sector can create a sense of exclusion and make it more challenging for aspiring female engineers to feel supported or encouraged.The underrepresentation of women in engineering, both in academia and the industry can be demotivating for potential female engineers. Engineers’ Ireland estimates that just 12% of Irish engineers are female and there has been no increase in this figure since 2019 (CSO, 2019). The lack of visible female role models can make it harder for women to envision themselves succeeding in the field.Unconscious bias in the recruitment and promotion processes can also limit the opportunities available to women interested in pursuing a career in engineering. Biased hiring or the perception that women may just not fit into the existing engineering culture can hinder their progression in the sector. Encouraging and Supporting Women in EngineeringIn 2021, Engineers Ireland launched a Women in Engineering Group to help address the industry’s gender gap. At the time, the group chair, Georgina Molloy, stated that its mission was to support women who were already in the sector and to encourage young girls to consider a career in engineering. By building a network of support, it will hopefully prevent women from leaving the profession for other more gender-balanced industries, along with enticing girls to choose to study engineering.The STEPS programme is a scheme funded by the Department of Education to promote engineering to children who may someday consider it for a future career. During STEPS Engineering week, engineering lessons will be taught in primary and secondary schools throughout Ireland. The main aim of this scheme is for those working in engineering careers to become a role model for kids who may have the right skillset to pursue engineering but may not realise the various employment opportunities the field can provide.International Women in Engineering Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the significant contribution women in the engineering sector make around the world. This day provides an opportunity to reflect on what more must be done to develop clearer pathways for women into the engineering industry. Breaking down barriers and encouraging young girls to enter and remain in the engineering sector is crucial. More must be done between engineering organisations, professional bodies and within the education sector to support the female talent within the industry.Advice for Aspiring Female EngineersPursue a passion: Choose a field of engineering that truly interests you. Follow your passion and focus on developing your skills and knowledge in this area.Education is crucial in engineering. Ensure you have a solid foundation by pursuing relevant courses, degrees, and certifications. Take advantages of opportunities for internships, placements, or apprenticeships to gain practical hands-on experience. Engineering is a rapidly evolving field, embrace continuous learning by staying updated with latest trends, technologies, and research. Consider pursuing advanced degrees or certificates to enhance your expertise.Seek mentorship and networking: There may be fewer female engineers out there but there are still some truly inspiring ones. Connect with other professionals in the field. Seek mentorship from experienced engineers who can guide you and provide valuable insights. Attend industry events, join engineering organisations, and participate in networking opportunities.Be confident and assertive: Believe in your abilities and skills as an engineer. Express your ideas, ask questions, and contribute to discussions. Cultivate self-confidence and assertiveness as these qualities will help you succeed in a male-dominated industry.Break barriers and challenge stereotypes: Be aware of the existing gender biases and stereotypes in engineering but don’t let them discourage or limit you. Challenge these barriers, prove your capabilities and be a role model for future generations of female engineers.Opportunities in Engineering and Manufacturing:Commissioning EngineerLeixlip€40,000-55,000Quality EngineerGalwayNegotiableQuality Team LeadCork€45,000-60,000As a female engineer in Ireland your journey may have its unique challenges but with determination, perseverance, and a supportive network, you can achieve your goals and make a significant impact in the engineering industry.Contact our Engineering and Manufacturing team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01 4744 600.
Trends in Construction Recruitment (Ireland):Marcel Skolimowski and Aileen O Boyle from our Technical team discuss:- COVID-19 effects on industry dynamics- 2023? Is that when construction will be fully back- Can offsite work increase in this sector?- Temps & contractors as a current industry trends View our latest Construction Jobs
There has been a significant recovery in the construction sector since 2012. According to the Irish Construction Industry “the building and construction industry increased its volume of output by 4.1% in the second quarter of 2014 when compared to the previous year”. In residential construction the ESRI predict that between 10,000 and 12,000 new houses will be needed between now and 2015. Further predictions project that this requirement will double to between 20,000 and 25,000 homes to accommodate ongoing demographic change. A further report carried out by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland entitled the “Construction Sector Outlook 2014” has forecasted the creation of about 30,000 new jobs over the next few years. Workers AbroadMany of our skilled construction workers have left Ireland to seek opportunities abroad. A construction boom and tax free salaries have attracted many Irish construction workers to the Middle East. According to the Irish Times in the United Arab Emirates the Irish population has increased by about 30 per cent to an estimated 6,000 people. In Riyadh the Irish Embassy has reported an increase in the number of families now living in Saudi Arabia to an estimated 3,000 people and a further 1,000 Irish people residing in Qatar. Canada has also been an attractive destination for many of our engineering specialists due to its current scarcity of workers. It is estimated that 3,000 skilled Irish construction workers will be working in Canada as engineering specialists by the end of 2014. In addition to skilled construction workers leaving our shores many Irish construction companies have also set up new ventures overseas. Some of these companies’ strengths include English as the established business language and high innovation and design standards. In 2010 Irish construction firms P Elliot & Company Limited and Wills Bros Ltd set up a new joint venture in Saudi Arabia. In 2011 Sligo based company Jennings O’ Donovan & Partner followed suit and announced that it had secured a contract of 2.8m as the Primary Infrastructure Development for a large development in Bahrain. Irish construction companies such as Kentz, Laing O’Rourke and Kentech have also won significant projects with some offering attractive overseas packages for the construction professionals and their families. Talent Shortages in the Irish MarketAs the Irish construction housing market has seen a bounce-back in job opportunities, there are now not enough suitably qualified graduates to fill them. The downturn in the building sector five years ago triggered a dramatic fall in secondary school leavers interest in third level study in courses linked to this area. According to Career and Education News between 2008 and 2013, CAO first preferences for construction related courses plunged from 552 to 195. Engineers Ireland also recently highlighted that there will be a shortage of engineering graduates in the years ahead and that during the 2013/2014 academic year only 62 construction engineers graduated. An additional problem of having a percentage of our skilled construction workers overseas on high tax free salaries poses further problems for engineering companies in relation to the recruitment of staff. Future OutlookThe ongoing recovery of the construction industry along with the issue of many of our skilled engineering professionals overseas poses questions for companies, educators and the government in how we ensure we have sufficient talent available for the opportunities which will emerge. The government recently announced a stimulus package for the construction industry titled “Construction 2020”. One of the points outlined within this package was a tax incentive scheme to increase supply for residential housing developments and to increase job numbers within the construction sector. While it is unwise to look for a situation where any sector is too popular a choice (demand for architecture and civil engineering during the boom was out of sync with future opportunities), there is certainly a case that more interest can be promoted in relevant construction courses. Many of our mechanical and electrical construction companies have reported difficulty in finding strong candidates for junior and intermediate roles – while there has simultaneously not been a large demand from school-leavers for building services courses. Along with this, experienced managers in the construction sector have commented that educators need to provide more “real world” exposure to future engineers towards the end of their third level education – eg. better Excel and planning software skills (MS Project, Primavera etc.) as these will enable them to bring greater value and “hit the ground running” with companies in the marketplace. It looks likely that Irish companies will try hard to attract many of our overseas engineers back home in the near future – they will also be interested to see if an increased number of skilled graduates can emerge through the education system. The answer to tackling the current deficit of qualified construction professionals should come from multiple sources including government incentives, upskilling current workers and promoting careers in construction to those entering third level education. As the Irish construction sector continues to show strong improvement we look forward to continuous growth in the year ahead.