Comment: Diversity is key01 November 2019

The cover story this month comes from an interview with new SOE Patron Sir John Parker – a man that has held many roles for nearly 60 years.

More recently, Sir John has helped contributed to two government reviews about the participation of underrepresented groups in corporate boards: women and ethnic minority groups. He told OE: “Different mindsets create different observations and comments that lead you to, in my view, better decision-making.” While these reports were about corporate boards, I believe that Sir John’s comment can equally be applied elsewhere, including the engineering sector as a whole.

Referencing ‘The state of engineering’ report from 2018, the Women’s Engineering Society says that just 12.37% of all engineers are women in the UK ( The engineering sector is starting to change beyond recognition; roles are becoming more diverse, tools and technologies are changing how work is carried out, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution is well on its way. If companies are to keep on top of these developments, they need to continue to attract new talent – both male and female – that has grown up in the shadow of technological advancement and the changing world.

Employers and government have recognised this need. The WISE campaign, for example, aims to bring gender balance in STEM, from the classroom to the boardroom, while Primary Engineer programmes aim to bring engineering into primary classrooms. The SOE is also hosting a Women in Engineering panel discussion on 12 November in London that aims to further explore how engineering roles are diversifying and what else can be done to further increase the number of women in the UK’s engineering workforce (

I, for one, am looking forward to hearing what the panel has to say. Only with new talent, new skills, and a diverse workforce can the UK’s engineering sector continue to grow and achieve.

Adam Offord

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