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Crossrail hosts competition to attract female engineers

By Krista Eleftheriou

Crossrail hosts competition to attract female engineers
  • Crossrail competition highlights gender stereotypes as a barrier to engineering amongst young people
  • Young people suggest popular culture is the key to raising the profile of engineering
  • Five young women win a year’s mentoring from Crossrail
  • Transport for London (TfL) and Crossrail celebrate the UK’s first National Women in Engineering Day

More than 400 young students will take part in Crossrail, TfL and London Transport Museum events to promote engineering to young women as part of celebrations for the UK’s first National Women in Engineering Day.

Crossrail has hosted the Engineer Your Future challenge where young people have been tasked with developing innovative ways to attract young women to engineering. Thirty finalists joined leading Crossrail female engineers at the project’s new Canary Wharf station to mark the first National Women in Engineering Day and gain first-hand experience of an engineering project. Five winners are to receive a year’s mentoring from Crossrail engineers.

More than 70 students took part in the engineering challenge. Emerging themes from the students about barriers for women to purse an engineering career included perceptions that it was “man’s job”, family objections and discrimination. Both young men and women thought integrating engineering into popular culture through TV shows, celebrity endorsement, advertising and media campaigns and promoting female role models would help raise the profile of engineering as an attractive career for women.

Just 8.5 per cent of engineers in the UK are women, the lowest representation of any European country. The UK is facing an unprecedented demand for engineering skills and needs to double the number of engineering graduates to 87,000 per year to meet the estimated one million job openings by 2020.

Crossrail is making progress with 19 per cent of its graduates being women. Crossrail and its contractors are actively encouraging young men and women to pursue a career in engineering by working with more than 100 schools and engaging more than 10,000 students in the past year.

Rail minister Stephen Hammond said: “We are investing record amounts in infrastructure projects including Crossrail and Thameslink, and for that we need a workforce with the skills and talent to compete on a global scale. Getting young women interested in construction and engineering is vital for the future of the industry and for the UK’s long-term economic growth.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “As the upgrade and modernisation of our bustling transport network continues apace, London is on course to deliver Europe’s most ambitious infrastructure project. This is a fantastic time to pursue a career in engineering and our economy owes a lot to the hugely important contribution of female engineers at TfL and Crossrail. It is only right that we should recognise and applaud their remarkable work, while acknowledging that there is much more to be done to encourage more women into what historically has been a male-dominated field.”

Crossrail Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme said: “The UK plans to deliver an unprecedented pipeline of infrastructure projects but it must do more to attract women to address the skills demand. There is also more that we must do to challenge the gender stereotypes that continue to influence some young women and men in their selection of careers. Crossrail has a number of senior women leading our project and our male and female engineers are working across London’s schools, reaching more than 10,000 students in the past year to promote engineering and breakdown stereotypes.”

Meanwhile, TfL and London Transport Museum will host 400 pupils at the Museum’s Acton Depot this week for Inspire Engineering Week to promote engineering as an exciting career option.

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Notes to editors

Crossrail is supporting the Your Life campaign which aims to increase the number of students studying STEM subjects by 50% over the next three years. It is led by business, entrepreneurs and Government. www.yourlife.org.uk

EngineeringUK’s The state of engineering in 2013 found that 1.86 million engineering job would need to be filled between 2010-2020. To meet the demand those with engineering degrees would need to double each year to 87,000 per annum and apprenticeship qualification almost triple to 69,000. Its 2014 report found that 39 per cent of recruiters feared they would not be able to employ enough science, maths and engineering technicians during the next three years.

Institute of Physics, It’s Different for Girls, The Influence of Schools report in October 2012 found that one in two state schools was not sending a single young woman to study science, mathematics, engineering or technical subjects.

Crossrail’s Engineer Your Future competition was run by contractor, My Kind of Crowd.

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For further information contact the Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or email pressoffice@crossrail.co.uk

About Crossrail

The total funding available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. The Crossrail route will pass through 40 stations and run more than 118 km (73 miles) from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. When Crossrail opens it will increase London's rail-based transport network capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the city. Crossrail services are due to commence through central London in 2018. Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.