UCL joins call to action for greater numbers of women in technology and engineering

7 May 2014

Today UCL is joining with government and other educational and industry partners to commit to the Women into Technology and Engineering Call to Action. This action includes engaging with young people, and increasing the participation of women in these fields within the University.

Students on CEGE

170 organisations, including universities, museums, FE colleges, schools and grass roots science and technology promotion organisations have committed to these national aspirations. The pledge aims to support a change in how women and girls are encouraged to consider technology and engineering careers and the subject choices or vocational pathways that lead to them.

Dr Elpida Makrygianni (Engineering Education Developer & Coordinator) and Professor Polina Bayvel (UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering Professor of Optical Communications and Networks) attended the launch today, which cemented national aspirations to double the number of women studying engineering and technology degrees at undergraduate level by 2030; boost the number of women pursuing careers in engineering and technology; and increase the number of young people studying maths and physics at 18.

Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:“There has never been a greater focus from government on inspiring people, especially women and girls, to take up science, technology, engineering and maths. STEM disciplines are the heartbeat of the modern world. From agriculture to aviation, the analytical and problem-solving skills they develop are more valuable than ever in a fast-changing, global economy. I’m delighted that 170 leading organisations are joining us in our commitment to inspiring more women and girls to take up study and training in these areas.”

Professor Michael Arthur (UCL President & Provost) said: “UCL is proud to support this endeavour, which continues our spirit and values of inclusion for all based on merit alone. We were the first university in England to admit women on equal terms with men, and strive to do all we can to close the gaps that still exist."

Professor Anthony Finkelstein (Dean of UCL Engineering) said: “To change the world we need to change ourselves, and that means we cannot accept the underrepresentation of women in the engineering community. This is a priority to which we must address resources, commitment and energy. At 26%, UCL already has the greatest number of female engineering academics and researchers in the UK, but the nature of that statistic shows we have a lot left to do.”

To change the world we need to change ourselves, and that means we cannot accept the underrepresentation of women in the engineering community.

Professor Anthony Finkelstein

The UCL pledge commits us to recruiting and retaining more female staff and students, sharing examples of best practice on gender and equality through UCL's Equality action planning programme, and ensuring that the talent of UCL female staff are reflected in the composition of its Professoriate.

This builds on existing measures in place at UCL Engineering to increase take up and diversity in engineering, including:

  • The availability of bursaries covering full fees and offering £10k living costs are available to under-represented Masters students, including women and carers
  • A specialist ‘women in engineering’ annual taster day for young women to investigate different kinds of engineering
  • A ‘UCL Women in Engineering’ website profiling staff, student and alumni as role models
  • A UCL Women in Engineering Student Society that provides mentoring, training and events for students by students

Four UCL departments (Medical Physics and Bioengineering, Civil, Environment and Geomatic Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Biochemical Engineering) hold Athena Swan status.

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  • UCL Civil and Environmental Engineering Students at Constructionarium (Courtesy of Dr Sarah Bell)