Today NCUB is bringing together universities to discuss how to increase the number of female engineering and technology undergraduates by hosting a Women in Engineering roundtable with the department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as part of the Your Life campaign.

At the moment only 14.3% of undergraduates in Engineering and Technology are female. It’s our aim to increase this to 30% by the year 2030. Why? Our research shows that the lack of young women studying the necessary subjects is a key reason why at present only 8% of the UK’s professional engineers are women, the lowest level in Europe. From any perspective this is a huge waste of potential talent for the economy.

As a female engineer, I’m passionate about helping other young women fulfil their potential in this field. To do that, we need to take concrete steps to work towards our 30% target, which has been endorsed by the Prime Minister.

Helping all our universities have the best possible student recruitment practices is one important step that can be made.

NCUB has the unique ability to bring together a range of universities to share best practice and discuss this issue with the people who can make a difference. I’m really glad that’s what we’re doing today as part of our commitments to the government backed Your Life campaign.

I’m looking forward to hearing about what has been effective across the country in addressing this problem.

“Making sure [courses] reflect the range of career opportunities graduates have with an engineering qualification, and even the name of the course itself, can change aspirations and set expectations that encourage young women to apply.”

NCUB research shows that emphasising the creative, people-based problem-solving and environmental aspects of engineering increases its appeal to young women. How university promotional materials such as the prospectus and department websites can communicate these messages is a topic we’ll look at today.

We’ll also think about how the fantastic existing physical outreach initiatives can be enhanced, both through university staff and students visiting schools and teachers visiting universities. The evidence shows that role models and teacher’s influence are critical factors for young women when considering engineering so this could really help increase female recruitment rates.

As well as the tools used to promote it, we will be exploring the design of the course curriculum. Making sure that it reflects the range of career opportunities graduates have with an engineering qualification, and even the name of the course itself, can change aspirations and set expectations that encourage young women to apply.

Today is also a great chance to talk about the process after students have applied. We will be discussing best practice in university selection practices, such as how assessment days and interviews are conducted to make sure they encourage continued engagement with a really diverse range of students.

Working with our partners to use the evidence from our Engineering and Manufacturing Task Force of university and business leaders to really work on the detail on solving a problem is a great example of what NCUB is about and how collaboration can lead to impact.

I hope today’s ideas can be the first step towards hitting that 30% target.

Olivia Jones is a female engineer and Talent Project Manager at NCUB. Read more NCUB blogs from Olivia.

Talent 2030 is an ambitious campaign to encourage more talented young people to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering – including software development. Talent 2030 is particularly focused on inspiring more girls to consider careers in these sectors, working jointly with business and universities to undertake outreach into schools and colleges. For further Talent 2030 updates follow them on Twitter @Talent_2030.

What do you think? Tweet us @NCUBtweets or comment below

Other posts that may interest you:

We must challenge the incorrect views of the opportunities a career in Engineering offers

We need people of every background to look to engineering as a career choice

Only 17% of UK universities are run by women – why?