On International Women's Day, Dawn Bonfield, MBE and UK representative on the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) Women in Engineering Committee, argues that the engineering profession cannot align to sustainable development goals until women have equal opportunities, both within the profession, and as a result of engineering projects.
See the article on the ICE site here.
The issue of 'identity' in engineering is an interesting one. Individuals have at least two identities in their lives (and generally many more) – their personal identity, and their professional identity.
Somebody’s personal, or social, identity is how they present themselves to their family and friends; their professional identity is how they behave whilst at work.
When these two identities align, there will be no barrier caused by identity misalignment to the individual happily pursuing their chosen profession. So, for example, it is so traditional for men (in the UK) to become engineers that in the social context their family and peer group are very accepting of a career in engineering as a good fit with their personal identity. In other words, this is the norm, and can even be seen as a ‘default’ career choice by a man's friends and family.
May 2017: The Teaching of Inclusive Engineering - Paper given at the IET/EPC Conference 'New Approaches to Engineering Higher Education', 22 May 2017
The engineering profession has come a long way since the industrial days when engineering meant making something that worked, and seeing if you could improve it to a point where it also made money. Nowadays engineering also includes the additional considerations requiring engineers to ensure that their products are safe, ethical, sustainable, free from cyber vulnerability, and – more recently - inclusive. Inclusive engineering is a relatively new discipline which requires engineers to have a competence which ensures that not only are teams made up of a diverse range of members, who bring with them the diversity of thought that we need – which evidence has shown leads to more profitable, more productive and more innovative business, but also to ensure that the engineering solutions that they produce are equally inclusive of all considerations and viewpoints. A growing body of evidence points to ways in which getting inclusivity right has produced solutions that are better and more acceptable to the customer, and lead to a safer and healthier working environment.
Below are the Top 13 Gender Diversity measures that can be measured and recorded alongside the Gender Pay Gap statistics to measure and set progress. These measures have been developed with the Women's Business Council STEM Subgroup and are what is recommending for companies to measure as a benchmark, and then set targets for improvement. If you would like to get involved in measuring these statistics as part of a pilot group, please get in touch.
International Women’s Day 2017
Be Bold for Change – My Story
In 2017 the theme for International Women’s Day is Be Bold for Change, so I thought I would share my one of my boldest decisions with you.
One of the boldest things I ever did on a personal level was deciding to put myself forward as President of the Women’s Engineering Society in 2014. The reason this was a bold step for me to take was because I have never been good at public speaking. And when I say ‘never been good at’ what I really mean is ‘ had an absolute phobia of’. So putting myself into the role of spokesperson for an organisation was something that was not without potential problems. I decided, however, that since the organisation I was representing was all about promoting diversity, then there must be room for a leader who has a different set of strengths, and that there was probably a way for me to work around what was a going to be a clear handicap. Sure enough, I managed to get through the year by sending representatives to cover the major public engagements, whilst simultaneously working on my own competence little by little, with lots of help and encouragement from a pretty extensive range of professionals and non-professionals alike (including acupuncture, hypnotherapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, breathing exercises, courses, and advice).
Maternity leave has long been considered one of those high points of life but low points as far as a career is concerned. A recent survey by Hays on behalf of Building showed that 90% of the female respondents said that having children adversely affected their job prospects.
And we know that we lose a lot of women at this career juncture, with statistics from the Engineering Council showing that 57% of women drop off the engineering professional register at around the age of 45 compared to 17% of men.
Welcome to the first newsletter from my new Company, Towards Vision. I am Dawn Bonfield, an Inclusivity Engineer! I will use this newsletter to keep you informed of my work over the coming months in the area of Inclusive Engineering, and if you don't know what that's all about, then read on to find out more. I will also be learning as I go along. And please do get in touch with ideas and suggestions.
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Why I marching in the Women’s March on Saturday
I am marching on Saturday at the Women’s March in London because I believe that women and allies need to stand together to ensure that the issues facing women today are taken seriously, not ignored, and are acted upon. I believe in unity, and in supporting the causes of other women.