British former Formula One world champion driver Jenson Button has expressed the need for more women to get involved in engineering.
The motoring industry is calling for women to get involved in engineering, and Jenson Button appeared at the Formula Student World Finals in Silverstone to voice his opinions the issue, alongside some other high-profile speakers.
The former F1 champ explained that while female engineers do appear and make a big difference in motor sport, a far higher percentage of women are needed in the industry to address gender imbalances.
It’s vital to push for more women working in mechanical engineering
Many Le Mans championships have been won by female engineers so there is obviously no reason why more females can’t get involved, including the driving.
I’ve worked with very competitive women at the highest levels of engineering, but we need many more to enter the field.
I’m here today to help inspire the next generation of engineers and to highlight the importance of support provided by Santander Universities.
Undergraduate engineering and technology related degree courses are currently male-dominated in the UK, with just 15.8 per cent of the students on those types of courses being women.
Recent surveys have revealed that only 11 per cent of the current engineering workforce is female – meaning the UK is home to the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe.
Rob Smedley, the head of Vehicle Performance at Williams F1 , appeared alongside Button at the British Racing Drivers Club and also spoke about the issue, explaining that when you add women into the mix, a better product is created.
I think engineering has a real image problem that we need to work on. We get nowhere near enough females in the Formula 1 workplace.
It’s getting better, but it’s nowhere near enough.
I always try to get as many females into my group as possible because it’s an alpha male environment, and when you put girls into that mix then they act like the control rod.
And what you get is a much better product.
Formula Student – a student engineering competition – boasts an above industry average number of females on competing teams, with 13 per cent in comparison to 9 per cent nationally.
Of course, a team made up of just 13 per cent women is still wildly unbalanced.
STEM subjects at Cardiff University, who won Formula Student in 2017, are made up of 23 per cent women – a huge 10 per cent above the national average.
Formula Student has benefited from support from programmes like Santander Universities, which funds 11 of the competing teams in the hope to inspire the next generation of engineers and encourage the study of STEM subjects and diversity in the field.
Santander Universities has invested £69 million since 2007 in supporting UK students and universities, providing over £10 million funding in 2017 alone.
Button showed his support for the Santander Universities program, saying:
It’s fantastic that Santander Universities have given the opportunity to so many in higher education to come here today and compete for this illustrious prize.
Formula Student is massive and it’s great to see over a hundred teams here competing.
They have put a year of their lives into competing here this weekend.
Some of the cars that they engineered with and the ideas that they have come up with are outstanding.
Matt Hutnell, UK Director of Santander Universities, added:
The reason we give back to higher education is that they are the future of society.
In the UK Santander’s purpose is to help people and businesses to prosper, and there is not anything that we do that epitomises that more than what we are doing today and supporting higher education in general.
Santander Universities is recognised as the world’s largest corporate supporter of higher education.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.