To celebrate International Women’s Day, Birmingham-based manufacturing and engineering apprenticeships provider, Make UK, hosted an afternoon tea for over 100 women.
At the event on March 8, local female leaders and current apprentices shared experiences, networked and celebrated their successes in the manufacturing industry, which remains a male-dominated sector.
In the UK, women make up just 29% of the manufacturing workforce, 8% of engineering apprentices and 18% of representation on company boards. In contrast, in countries such as Iceland and New Zealand, women are highly visible in senior or managerial positions, representing 46% of board members.
To help increase the number of women entering the industry, Make UK is inviting more young women in the Midlands to apply for high-opportunity roles in manufacturing and engineering. The organisation has over 300 apprenticeship vacancies starting this September with prestigious companies including Jaguar Land Rover, Severn Trent and Rolls Royce.
“This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias, a message that rings very true in manufacturing,” said Fiona McGarry, Engagement Manager at Make UK. “There is a perception that our sector is biased towards men and not a welcoming environment for females. We have so much evidence that points otherwise – female Make UK apprentices have gone on to establish their own companies, secure senior roles in global businesses and speak at high-profile events including the Conservative Party Conference and on BBC Breakfast. By established females in the sector supporting those coming through we will be able to make a real difference and readdress the balance.”
“Women are underrepresented in engineering, which is why I take part in education outreach activities with teenage girls,” said Stephanie Potter, continuous improvement apprentice with Make UK, working for AE Aerospace in Birmingham. “Role models are incredibly important – I wouldn’t have considered engineering at all if it hadn’t been for my dad. I never had a female engineering role model, and I aspire to be that for other young girls, because there aren’t many people encouraging women into engineering. I want to show young people that it’s an exciting, creative career where you get to problem solve.”