The UK is desperate for engineers. We’ve recently written about the invisible skills gap in the UK and that most people don’t even realise that skills for STEM jobs are in high demand. At the same time, only 8% of UK engineers are female and that’s the lowest proportion in Europe. There’s an obvious solution here: get more women into engineering. Electronics company Bosch is hoping they can do just that with a new campaign called #BetweenUsWeCan.
Bosch wants to address the gender imbalance in engineering and encourage more people to take up engineering. The campaign aims to highlight the talent of young women who are working as engineers, studying engineering, or are keen to start. The campaign takes the form of a competition for 18-25 year olds.
A trend in consumer electronics is compatibility with the Internet of Things (IoT). In the future, most everyday devices will be connected to smart home automation systems and controllable remotely using smartphones. The competition is asking young women to submit their best ideas for how the Internet of Things could make the world a better place.
The winners will be chosen by a panel of high-profile judges including Danielle George from the University of Manchester, who you might have seen hosting the Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures on the BBC in 2014.
There will be 3 winners who will receive a two-day visit to Bosch’s research and development facilities near Stuttgart, Germany. Beyond this trip to see future IoT tech in development, the winners will also receive a year’s worth of mentoring from Bosch engineers.
To learn more about the campaign we spoke with Eman Martin-Vignerte, a qualified electronics engineer and Head of Political Affairs at Bosch UK.
What’s the goal of the campaign and its importance to Bosch?
In Britain, as across the world, there is an insatiable demand for engineers as organisations look for answers to global issues such as climate change, renewable energy, water supply and health challenges. The universal connectivity of the Internet of Things presents us with huge opportunities to solve such problems and make life better.
However, despite engineers being renowned for their innovation, ingenuity and problem-solving skills, the profession still has to overcome its long-standing challenge of attracting and retaining female engineers. Women’s voices are essential to the problem-solving and innovation that is at the heart of engineering. We must re-imagine what an engineer and a leader looks like so that we can tap into this critical half of the human talent pool.
The aim of our campaign, #BetweenUsWeCan, is to shine a light on the skills, talent and ideas of young female engineers in the UK. We know they have the imagination to harness the IoT in new and exciting ways, and we want to provide a platform for them.
As an industry leader, Bosch is passionate about innovation that makes life better and that innovation is best achieved when people and things come together. This campaign is about connectivity, between people, between different technologies and between people and technology. Bosch is uniquely positioned to help bridge the gaps that exist.
How is the competition going so far?
It’s very encouraging that there’s been such a great response to the competition so far. There’s a real sense of common purpose among women in engineering and the support we’ve seen from organisations and individuals, especially on social media, has been fantastic. Ultimately, we want as many fresh ideas as possible over the next two months and therefore we’re urging young female engineers, whether working, studying or simply aspiring, to enter the competition.
Any personal advice for people considering entering the competition? Any advice for women starting tech careers?
I’d urge young female engineers to enter. It’s a great opportunity to think ‘outside the box’ about ways that life could be better, whether for individuals, communities or entire nations. We’re looking for a combination of creativity and practicality, and a demonstration of the passion that makes engineering such a fantastic profession.
I have been working now for more than eight years in a male dominated industry. Lots of women feel less confident in such an environment and are apologetic for being clever, ambitious or driven. Don’t apologise for this – own it. If you are super-confident, people can’t help but notice you. My advice is to focus on being an engineer, rather than worrying about being a woman in a male-dominated environment. You can do it!
You can enter the #BetweenUsWeCan competition at the Bosch website.
Main image © Bosch