International Women in Engineering Day 2021: How has the pandemic impacted gender diversity?
Every June, the tech industry comes together to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day. Ada Lovelace springs back onto social feeds, talented women around the globe are championed, and talk inevitably turns to what can be done to encourage more women into the sector.
Before COVID-19, the industry’s male to female ratio was imbalanced by as much as 77% in favour of male directors. The pandemic has only exacerbated this. In fact, a new study of women in tech reveals:
- Over half (57%) feel burned out at work this year, compared to just over a third (36%) of men
- Women are nearly twice as likely as men to have lost their jobs or been furloughed due to the pandemic
So what does International Women in Engineering Day mean today for leading figures in the industry today?
<p>What’s made the difference for me, has been seeking out supportive environments, inspiring individuals – both who I work with, but also in the wider industry – and pursuing encouragement have all been conducive to my growth as a woman in engineering. I’m hopeful that as more women enter engineering fields, and rise through the ranks, the imbalances that I saw when I started out will diminish.</p>
<p>I took computer science A-level and had a wonderful teacher who always said I would enjoy working in software development. After school I studied Maths at university, which included computer science modules which I thoroughly enjoyed and inspired me to start searching for jobs in software engineering so that I could use my maths degree background to continue with something I enjoyed.</p>
<p>Role models don’t necessarily have to come from the industry, it is hugely beneficial for young girls to see female accomplishments in all walks of life. As someone who loves sport, I have always been inspired by the Irish Olympic athlete Sonia O\’Sullivan. She has a fantastic trait of always looking forward, learning from her experiences and improving, which is something that can be adopted by women in the engineering industry. Whatever your career path, it is vital to have people that inspire you.</p>
<p>For women leadership, especially in technical roles, its critical to help lift up those who may benefit from guidance. And, people are inspired by what they see: the more women in senior roles in the industry, the more those just starting out will be able to envision themselves in those roles and work towards them.</p>
<p>With a widening digital skills gap, especially in cyber security, the opportunities on offer should be made available for everyone. Online training courses have become more available over the past year, making it easier to extend existing skills and develop new ones. To increase digital knowledge, organisations need to recognise aligned skills, encouraging women from different areas of the business into more technical roles.</p>