Women into Fellowship - Q&A

18 Apr 2018

As part of its ongoing Membership Growth Initiative, the Institute is pleased to announce the launch of its latest project – Women into Fellowship. Through this initiative IOM3 will be encouraging appropriately experienced women members and other women within the Materials Cycle communities to apply for the IOM3 Fellowship grade. To understand more about this project, we caught up with Ian Bowbrick, the Institute’s Director of Professional Development and Membership.

The Membership Growth Initiative has been going for four years. What progress have you made?

The initiative and its associated activities are going very well. We have increased the number of new recruits into membership to more than 2,000 annually, we passed 200 new registrants to the Engineering Council, Science Council and Society for the Environment registers for the first time in 2017, our technician community has more than doubled, and there were more than 180 new Fellows confirmed last year – three times the number achieved in the year before the initiative was launched.

With such growth in Fellows, why launch a project that focuses on getting women members to apply?

Quite simply, not enough women are applying for Fellowship. I find this a very disappointing situation because I meet so many women members who are excellent practitioners and could easily make a strong case for the award of Fellowship. As a professional engineering institution, and by that I mean a professional body who is licensed by the Engineering Council to put practitioners on the engineering register, we have one of the highest proportions of women members at 18%, but our Fellowship community is only made up of 5% women. While the overall proportion of women is being redressed at the younger member end – on some university materials science courses women outnumber men – the Institute is taking this positive action now to redress the situation in Fellowship community.

What positive action will you be taking?

We started the process last year by running three ‘Become a Fellow’ workshops, the aim of which was to demystify and clear the fog around what qualifies you as Fellow material and the application process. So far 34 of the 101 members who attended have applied and been awarded Fellowship, but the vast proportion are men. Putting aside this quantitative measure, the feedback from members was invaluable in enabling me to shape and develop a strategy to take this project forward. To start with,  my colleague Sarah Boad and I will be targeting women within the membership who we know have the necessary attributes to become Fellows and will also be doing the same with the non-members we meet during our travels and from our extensive networks. A human mining exercise is about to begin to identify suitable women practitioners who have not yet crossed our paths and they will be encouraged to apply. I will also be running a dedicated ‘Become a Woman Fellow’ workshop in May, which will also offer the resources required to make an application such as mentoring support and a ‘find a referee’ service. This will be repeated later in the year. Finally, we will be placing an emphasis on asking the existing Fellow community to nominate women when we seek Fellowship nominations from them, currently a rolling exercise.

What success factors have you placed on this project?

I am not particularly concerned about quantitative measures or statistics here. What is important is that women members and practitioners see that the Fellowship community is an inclusive one. Making an application is straightforward and the necessary support is there to assist them in achieving this goal. If we get this right, then the 5% will undoubtedly grow.

Ian Bowbrick CEng CEnv FIMMM,
Director of Professional Development and Membership

To find out more about the Women into Fellowship initiative, contact Ian Bowbrick on ian.bowbrick@iom3.org or call our Membership team on 44(0)1782 221717