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University of Sheffield receives £50k to increase number of female engineers

The donation will fund activities including inspiring female primary aged children about engineering

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The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and AESSEAL, manufacturer of mechanical seals and support systems, have donated £50,000 to The University of Sheffield to increase the number of women studying and working in engineering.

The donation comes as the University’s faculty of engineering launched Engineering Is, a campaign aimed at encouraging more young people to study engineering.

Currently it is predicted that engineering companies will need 182,000 people to enter the industry per year to 2022, but there is a current annual shortfall of 55,000 skilled workers.

The shortage of women in engineering roles is even more acute.

Dr Rachael Rothman, faculty director for women in engineering in the faculty of engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: “Engineering is a hugely varied and exciting career and through this project we aim to provide role models so many more children want to be engineers when they grow up. In terms of engineering progression, only 8% of engineering professors are female and we aim to increase this to 20% by 2025 in line with the proportion of females lower down the career ladder.”

The AESSEAL donation will be administered by the IMechE over a two-year period and will fund three key activities:

  • Inspiring primary-aged children to see engineering as an exciting choice by building on the resources developed by the University’s Women in Engineering Student Society
  • Removing barriers to engineering for female students who have not studied physics at A-level by trialling a 4 week pre-sessional physics catch-up course and ongoing tutorial support
  • Recruiting and retaining female engineering talent in Sheffield by helping female academics to progress to professorial roles through tailored support.

Jon Hilton, president of the IMechE, said: “Given the engineering skills shortage, we cannot afford to miss out on the talent and ingenuity found in 51% of the population.”

Stephen Shaw, engineering director at AESSEAL added: "We invest heavily in our infrastructure in terms of machines and, if our people are our greatest asset, then we don't have enough women, so we need to do something about that."

The University of Sheffield’s faculty of engineering is one of the biggest providers of engineering research and education in the UK, with more than 5,000 students and an annual research income of more than £65 million.

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