Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Brookes student presents in Parliament on gender diversity in Engineering

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Hanna Rose

Hanna Rose BA (Hons) International Relations and Politics student has presented a talk in the Houses of Parliament, based on a poster she designed, as part of her third year dissertation. (Hanna pictured left with organiser Louise Bunce and fellow student Max Jones).

Hanna’s dissertation ‘Women in Engineering - Why is there an imbalance in the numbers of engineering professionals and how could policies be implemented to resolve this?’ was presented in Parliament on 20 February to a group of MPs and other interested parties. Her research made it to a short list of 10 as part of the Posters in Parliament project.

Hanna explained her motivation for exploring the topic: Having previously worked within the motorsport industry and engineering sector, I saw the increasing need and demand for gender diversity in the workplace. Experiencing issues encountered by those working in the industry allowed me to gain a better understanding into the problems". 

Hanna continued to pursue her interest in the engineering sector throughout university. She led the sponsorship and marketing section of Oxford Brookes Racing, the University's Formula Student team, from 2015 to 2016 and also undertook an internship with BAE Systems over the summer between her second and third year. 

The methodology for Hanna’s work involved a series of anonymous surveys with working professionals, students and retired women from the engineering community. Her original target was 20 women, but  received feedback from over 200.

While 2018 has been deemed by the Government as ‘The Year of Engineering’, Hanna’s dissertation highlights research that shows only one fifth of applicants for Higher Education Engineering courses are female. Forecasts indicate that in the long term, 2.65 million jobs will be needed by 2024.  

As a result of her survey, Hannah found that 63% of female engineers felt uncomfortable in the workplace. She proposes that more inclusive policies are needed to ensure business objectives are achieved:

“Targets will not be met if half the population feel excluded.  I have concluded that the solutions lie in changing the perception of what it means to be an engineer. This could be done by better promoting the study of Science Technology, Engineering and Maths in schools, increasing the opportunity for flexible working, and improving career education”.

Hanna referenced a range of feminist literature and information on government policy, to explore the reasons for the low number of female engineering students at university and issues around female engineer retention in the workplace. 

Find out more about the Politics and International Relations course at Oxford Brookes University on the Department of Social Sciences webpages.