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LSBU launches project to break down barriers for women in Engineering

30 September 2020

London South Bank University (LSBU) was one of the first universities in England to teach women engineering in 1920. To celebrate the centenary year LSBU will be launching a series of events, LSBU 100 – Women in Engineering, to highlight the incredible achievements of women engineers in the UK, on 30 September 2020.

LSBU 100 – Women in Engineering will end on 23 June 2021 (International Women in Engineering Day). A series of events over the coming 10 months will focus on the achievements of past LSBU students and discuss how to increase opportunities for women to study and build careers in Engineering.

Engineering contributes 26% of the UK’s GDP or £455billion to our economy according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr). More than 1 million women work in science, technology, engineering and maths jobs across the UK and the number of women in engineering has nearly doubled in the last decade.

But across the UK, women make up less than 18% of higher apprentices in engineering and manufacturing and 7% of all engineering apprentices. The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, according to the UKRC. In 2017, only 15.1% of our engineering undergraduates were women, compared to countries like India, with 30% of female engineering undergraduates.

Dr Claire M Benson, Research Fellow for School of Engineering, LSBU, and curator of LSBU 100 – Women in Engineering said, “LSBU was one of the first higher education organisations in the UK to teach women engineering. By recognising and celebrating the immense achievements over the past 100 years of our students and staff we can break down barriers for the next generation of women in engineering.

“A brilliant example of the difference positive women are making in engineering around the world is Marion Donovan the inventor of the waterproof diaper. She developed the design, patented it and arranged for largescale manufacturing herself because no one would buy the design. A few years later she sold the whole company for $1million. An engineering industry devoid of women will miss important opportunities to learn and create solutions to improve the standard of living.

“Nearly one in five jobs in the UK is in engineering and the sector contributes over £400 billion to our GDP. But the UK is lagging far behind other countries on the number of women working in engineering roles and has one of the lowest percentages of women engineering professionals in Europe.

“Those employment figures show while we must celebrate our past and look forward to break down barriers and open up opportunities for the next generation of women engineers.”

LSBU 100 – Women in Engineering - timeline
LSBU 100 – Women in Engineering – our next event will be on Ada Lovelace Day (13 Oct) for Black History Month and will have LSBU staff, student and an alumni panel from entirely BME backgrounds and cultures.

LSBU is ranked 5th in the UK for Engineering (Electronic & Electrical) in the Guardian University Guide 2021. It’s another example of the personalised and practical education that gives LSBU graduates the skills they need to embark on successful careers.