Subcon 2019 to celebrate Women's Engineering Society centenary

UK manufacturing supply chain show Subcon will see the Women's Engineering Society (WES) attend to mark 100 years of the society.

The final morning of the show, which runs 4-6 June 2019 at the Birmingham's NEC, will be dedicated to the need to improve UK engineering's gender balance, with content curated by WES. Speakers will include WES CEO Elizabeth Donnelly and Katalytik MD Jan Peters.

The WES said around 20,000 qualified female engineers could be enticed to return to the sector. 56% of UK engineering businesses now believe enough has been done to encourage female engineering talent to enter industry (only 7% of businesses believed that to be the case in 2018).

Flexible work patterns, tax incentives/childcare vouchers and return to work programmes were seen as key ways to boost numbers.

"Campaigns to get more women into engineering have been more visible and there may be a sense that the job is done,” said Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO, Women’s Engineering Society. “However, it takes years to build a pipeline of women in engineering and we must keep pushing. When I went to university in the late 1980s, there would be one or two women studying for an engineering degree. These women are just now beginning to take senior roles because it takes up to 30 years to get to the right stage in a career – we have just seen Air Marshall Susan Gray become the highest ranked woman in the military ever. And if women took career breaks it will take a little longer. So, we are seeing a few women reaching the top of engineering, with more women coming through below. It’s still not enough, barely 12% of all engineers are women, so we need to keep attracting women into engineering.”

Subcon Event Director Gordon Kirk, said: “Getting more women into engineering, or in many cases, back into engineering remains a tough nut for the industry to crack. It seems there has been little change in ideas of how women can be encouraged into the industry, but these figures suggest that perhaps the appetite amongst businesses has shifted. There is clearly a massive realisation of the need for pay transparency. These should provide very interesting contexts for our partnership with the Women’s Engineering Society this year as we celebrate the contribution to industry made by women throughout UK manufacturing and engineering.”

For further details and to register for the event, visit