14 April 2023
by Sarah Morgan

Call for faster inclusion in engineering

Engineering culture in the UK needs to accelerate its drive to become more inclusive to be a key player in the global race for engineering skills, according to a new report from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

© Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Three quarters of engineers feel there has been progress in the last five years towards inclusion, but underrepresented groups are still less likely to see engineering culture positively, and still report a bullying, discriminatory culture where harassment and microaggressions are tolerated.

The Inclusive Cultures in Engineering 2023 report explores the interrelationship between cultures, inclusion and diversity within the engineering community.

Some of the key highlights are:

  • Three-quarters of engineers respond that inclusion in the profession has improved since 2017, with engineers who identified as transgender seeing the most improvements.
  • Furthermore, some see the profession as ‘slow to change’, ‘siloed’ and ‘hierarchical’, with women more likely to use these negative descriptors than men.
  • The engineering community generally feels that the culture is inclusive, however, those who are underrepresented within the profession are less likely to view the culture in this way.
  • Masculine and macho culture persist in the profession in the form of offensive ‘banter’ and ‘mickey-taking’.
  • Underrepresented groups continue to report experiences of bullying, harassment and other forms of discrimination in the workplace - one in three engineers (35%) who responded to the survey had experienced bullying and harassment.

Nearly seven million employees work in engineering in the UK and the responses of the 1,657 engineers and employers who participated in the research indicate that engineers feel pride in their profession with eight in ten (81%) keen to promote it as a career.

The report’s recommendations for cultivating a more inclusive profession are grouped under four themes: improving the culture of inclusion; nurturing a sense of belonging; tackling bullying, harassment and discrimination; and improving retention and success. They include a call for diversity data transparency.