International women in engineering day: Gender balance is a problem for us all to tackle

Heidi Mottram


Men and women have a joint role to play in addressing the gender imbalance in engineering, says Northumbrian Water Chief Executive Heidi Mottram.

Picture shows Heidi Mottram, Chief Executive of Northumbrian Water Group.

International Women In Engineering Day 2017 takes place on Friday, June 23, with this year’s focus being upon everyone working together to jointly encourage greater numbers of female engineers.

Currently, figures from the Women’s Engineering Society show that women make up less than 10% of the UK engineering sector.

Heidi, who has made her career in engineering-based companies and worked in the industry before joining Northumbrian Water, said: “The energy and utilities sectors face a significant future skills gap, with more than 200,000 new entrants to the industry needed in the next ten years.

“While this is an issue that needs to be tackled, it also represents a real opportunity to bring more women into engineering as we look to address not only that skills gap but also the gender imbalance that exists in this sector.

“Earlier this year, Northumbrian Water joined with 26 other businesses as the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership to launch the Workforce Renewal and Skills Strategy for the sector. This partnership approach reflects both a broad understanding of the recruitment challenges that face these sectors and a collective will to tackle them.

“With less than 10% of the UK engineering sector made up of women, we clearly need to do more to encourage female entrants to the industry. This needs to be done at a number of key stages of education, when young people are forming their ideas of different careers, as well as in a way that engages people later in life, inspiring people to consider moving into engineering from other areas.

“However, this is not just a job for women to tackle. We must draw upon the support of men who can also help enthuse, encourage and support girls and women to see the fantastic opportunities that can be found in engineering and to really go for a career in the industry.”

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Northumbrian Water Limited supplies 2.7 million customers in the North East with both water and sewerage services, trading as Northumbrian Water, and 1.8 million customers in the South East with water services, trading as Essex & Suffolk Water.

In the most recent survey by the Consumer Council for Water, Northumbrian Water was named the UK’s most trusted water company by its customers. 2017 also saw Northumbrian Water named the world’s most ethical water company for the seventh successive year.

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