Tomorrow's Engineers Week launched this Monday to get more young people, especially girls, to consider a career in engineering. I've been vlogging in the run up to the campaign, but to launch the Week, EngineeringUK has released research showing that girls are being pushed away by narrow-minded, irrelevant images showing engineering to be a 'job for the boys'.
The study found that only around a quarter of images found on search engines and stock image sites contain a female engineer. This is compared to over 80% of pictures including men; so it's no wonder young girls don't think engineering's for them!
I've interviewed some great, inspirational women engineers over the past few months for Tomorrow's Engineers Week and they prove more than anyone that engineering isn't just a job for the boys. From Laura, an apprentice engineer at Bombardier, to Jane Simpson, Chief Engineer at Network Rail. Both of these women really inspired me and showed me how interesting and exciting engineering is - something that's not being reflected in the images representing the industry.
Jane Simpson has a fascinating story to tell. Jane was encouraged to pursue her interests in maths and science by her dad and so chose to study engineering. She's now one of the most senior engineers in the whole country. This is exactly what Tomorrow's Engineers Week is trying to get across to young people, schools and parents. The view that girls shouldn't do engineering is out-dated and damaging to young girls' careers. I want to become an engineer and I don't plan on letting out-dated stereotypes hold me back.
It's not all doom and gloom though. Universities are the best at portraying engineering as being a fun, interesting career for both men and women. This isn't really surprising when you think about it. Universities are constantly looking to the future and want to create the best engineers possible, no matter what their sex.
As well as being a varied and interesting career, engineering is also one of the best paid. The Centre for Economics & Business Research found that doing level 3 apprenticeships in engineering, manufacturing and technology can lead to some of the highest wages of any apprenticeship subject.
It's time we change the media's perception of engineering as a boys' club. Engineering jobs make up a fifth of all UK jobs, so girls need to get into engineering not just for themselves but for the future of British industry.
It's true, I have seen engineers in hard hats and boots but that's such a small section of what an engineer actually is. I've also been to places like Sony where people just wear normal clothes - a hard hat is a little bit overkill in an office even for an engineer. Until the images we give to the media and young people are different and more inclusive, perceptions of engineering will not change and girls with a passion for engineering may never actually join the industry.
You can also watch my Tomorrow's Engineers Week vlogs here.Suggest a correction