As we celebrate International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) today (23rd June), we applaud all the talented women within the industry – however, they make up just a mere 12.37% according to statistics published by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). So, multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy Dice is not only celebrating its female team members but asking how can we get more women into engineering?
Iva Dimitrov is a principal infrastructure engineer at Dice and works across a number of national schemes, specialising in commercial developments and sustainable drainage design. She said: “I’m a firm believer that getting more women into engineering starts at an early age. Children’s toys are very gender oriented – with boys being encouraged to play with cars and building blocks whereas girls play with dolls – so I feel parents need to encourage girls to play with more imaginative and technical toys.
“I also think that people choose a profession based on what they see around them. If girls see more women in technical professions, it inspires them to start considering different career paths. I grew up in a small town in Bulgaria and my closest role models were my mother, who is a mathematician, and my father, who is an engineer, so I was very supported with my career choice.
“However, we also need to encourage women to stay once they join the profession. For me, the biggest challenge is juggling your career and your family – especially if you have children. It is harder for women to spend more time at work when they have so many responsibilities at home. I, therefore, feel incredibly proud to be part of such a thriving consultancy, which offers a truly flexible approach to work and encourages women from a multitude of backgrounds to pursue a career in engineering.”
The East Midlands-based firm prides itself on having a multicultural and diverse workforce, with 50% of staff being women and people from BAME backgrounds. Having recently announced a raft of female hires and promotions, Dice is also investing in its apprenticeship scheme, which provides an ‘earn while you learn’ incentive during a time when traditional university pathways have been made difficult as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Husna Gul – an apprentice at Dice – is another woman who is carving out a successful career in engineering for herself. Having initially applied to university after completing A-Levels in maths, physics, and chemistry, Husna discovered the benefits of the apprenticeship route and withdrew her UCAS application. She said: “Being the eldest child in the family, my parents were worried when I told them that I didn’t want to take the ‘traditional’ university route. However, after they looked into degree apprenticeships, they soon realised this was the right path for me and have been incredibly supportive of my decision.
“Engineering is such an exciting and fulfilling industry where no two days are the same. I think getting more women into the industry is all about early education and exposure to different career paths. By attending open evenings and school workshops, girls can really understand what engineering is about from a young age. It’s important to look past the stereotype and see there is nothing masculine about this job.
“When I first started, I could never have imagined I’d be able to do the kind of jobs I’m doing now. I have picked up a huge amount of knowledge in such a short space of time, and that’s testament to both Dice and Nottingham Trent University (NTU) for creating a new pathway into the industry.”