Thursday, 12 March 2015

Standing up for women in engineering

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This weekend the world celebrated International Womens Day and what better opportunity to discuss how far the world has come in its views of women.

As the famous song goes, ‘Its a mans world!but almost five decades later, is this still the default thinking?

Statistically, sectors like engineering and infrastructure are still largely male dominated and sadly there also still seems to be the slightly lazy assumption that women are not as well suited as men when it comes to working in engineering or construction.

By 2020, it has been predicted that 2.79 million jobs will become available within UK engineering companies, 1.86 million of which will require engineering skills, but how many of these will be occupied by women?

Currently at higher education, a tiny fifth of students who take physics at A-Level are girls, a story that has been repeated for the past 25 years or more. The sad reality is that many youngsters think gender is a barrier when it comes to careers in construction and engineering. A worrisome fact considering these sectors are in fact in high demand.

Its clear to see that more needs to be done to highlight the benefits of working in engineering and construction most especially to young women. Thankfully initiatives like the WISE campaign are doing their bit to help the gender divide in previously male dominated sectors. By encouraging women and young girls to study STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the hope is that the female presence in such sectors will increase from the current 13% to 30% within the next five years.

Looking at the female-sparse engineering sector as it stands today, its hard to believe that after the Great War, women were fighting to keep these same engineering roles that many women are discounting today. During World War I, many women worked in engineering while their brothers, partners and spouses were fighting in the war. Doesnt it seem a shame that the efforts and talents of these women have largely been lost?

Educating young people about the benefits of STEM subjects and the engineering sector should be a top priority for all especially following the UKs current skill crisis.

With initiatives such as International Womens Day, it is still apparent that we all need reminding of the importance of equality. For me, there is no difference in ability across genders. At Texane two of our three owners are women as well as 50% of our middle managers and isnt it about time we employers started to walk the talk and show this sector that it is not gender specific. If a man can do it, a woman can do it too.

Diverse teams have been proven to get better results and were proud to say we have the proof where thats concerned. Lets step up the drive to get more women into engineering as a nation and heres hoping that 2015 will be the year more women take a chance on a sector they might have previously overlooked!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Network Rail to accelerate digital-enablement of Britain’s railway

The digitisation of the railway is essential if we are to manage the year on year growth in rail freight and passengers, says Arnab Dutt. 

Better time tabling from the “digital railway “– will improve efficiency across the UK where signalling is outdated and insufficient to cope with increasing demand.

Being part the corporate governance of NR gives me a hands on opportunity to scrutinize the Board as they lay out their plans for the future.

The simple fact is, if we don’t invest in new technology and regular maintenance, our network grinds to a halt in 2030. There will simply not be enough capacity for the huge growth in passengers and rail freight. Passenger growth numbers are double what were predicted 10 years ago.

Presently we are operating a Victorian legacy railway network with 21st century demands placed upon it. Without thinking 50 years ahead and taking action, our transport infrastructure becomes a slow motion national train disaster. We want to encourage more freight to disappear off our congested roads and switch to the greener alternative of rail. We need to believe in progress and a legacy that future generations can be proud of. We need to understand and plan for huge demographic change and population increase.

Despite much uninformed criticism, we should note the UK rail network is not only one of the busiest in the world, it’s just about the safest. Something to be proud of, and worth bearing in mind.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Leicester Mercury | Time to tap into this county's diverse talent

When it comes to awarding contracts, businesses take all manner of things into consideration, including price, quality of the product, and customer relations. But what about ethnicity?

There is a target set by Government for 25 per cent of all public sector contracts to go out to small and medium-sized firms such as Texane, but there is currently no emphasis on ensuring these targets are inclusive to black and minority ethnic (BME) firms. I believe there should be.

BME businesses are successful drivers for our economy. The Government should be making sure they get a fair slice of the public sector pie.

While many start-ups fail, 70 per cent of BME businesses are still here after five years, and they grow 20 per cent faster than other small firms.

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