A BUSINESS group yesterday called for a national campaign to encourage more girls to study technology and engineering subjects under moves to increase the number of women on company boards.
A study by the EEF manufacturers’ organisation found that the UK faced a “major challenge” in increasing the number of women employed in industry.
Nine out of ten engineers are male and just 20 per cent of the manufacturing and engineering workforce is female, the research found. The number of female engineers has increased by just one percentage point since 2008, to 6 per cent, compared with 26 per cent in Sweden, 20 per cent in Italy and 18 per cent in Spain.
Of 29 manufacturing firms in the FTSE 100, women accounted for 19 per cent of board positions, slightly higher than the average of 17 per cent for all the companies, said the report. GlaxoSmithKline topped a list of manufacturing firms, with five women on the board, a third of the total, followed by Diageo with four out of 11.
The EEF partly blamed the failure to encourage young women to study science-related topics, which it said had left half of UK state schools having no girls studying A-level physics.
Terry Scuoler, EEF chief executive, said women were “substantially under-represented” in manufacturing at a time when “industry needs to be tapping into every potential talent pool”.
“Some will argue for quotas for women on boards but this would not address the underlying need for a substantial increase in the pipeline of women with engineering and other key skills going into industry. We need a huge national effort to make this happen and government, education, and industry itself all have a major role to play,” he added.
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