Michelle Richmond is Director of Membership & Professional Development at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). She started her engineering career as an apprentice and is a former winner of the IET’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year.
On 10th December 2014, three outstanding female engineers were recognised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for their professional achievements and the work they do encouraging other young people into engineering. 28-year-old senior hardware engineer Naomi Mitchison was named the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year. 20-year-old Jessica Bestwick was presented with the IET’s Mary George Prize for Apprentices, and 27-year-old Lucy Ackland won the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Award.
The lack of women in engineering is a very significant problem, contributing to skills shortages which damage the economy. The shocking reality is that the UK is missing out on half of its potential engineering and technology workforce by failing to attract women into the industry. It also means that women are losing out on interesting and rewarding career opportunities.
A lack of inspirational engineering role models for girls is one of the main reasons for this so we must make sure we show the next generation that engineering is a dynamic, diverse, interesting and challenging career choice. Naomi will be a fantastic role model to all young people thinking of a career in engineering and technology.
The difficulty in attracting women into engineering is down to a combination of things: from the careers advice girls are given in schools, to schools not instilling girls with the confidence to opt for science and maths at A-level, through to employers needing to do more to make their approach to recruitment and retention more female friendly. But it’s also a result of the lack of inspirational engineering role models for girls – which is where our Young Woman Engineer of the Year winners can play a vital role.