University of Sheffield welcomes industry donation to boost number of women engineers 

Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Mike Hounslow and Dr Rachael Rothman receiving the cheque

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and AESSEAL, manufacturer of mechanical seals and support systems, have donated £50,000 to The University of Sheffield to create a step change in the number of women studying and working in engineering.

Engineering Director at AESSEAL, Stephen Shaw, and President of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Jon Hilton, formally made the donation at the Houses of Parliament where the University’s Faculty of Engineering launched Engineering Is, a campaign aimed at encouraging more young people to study engineering.

The shortage of UK engineers is a massive problem for the UK economy. Engineering companies will need 182,000 people per year with engineering skills in the decade to 2022 but there is a current annual shortfall of 55,000 skilled workers.

The shortage of women in engineering roles is even more acute - with only 9% of the engineering workforce being female.

The AESSEAL donation will be administered by IMechE over a two year period and will fund three key activities:

  • Inspiring primary-aged children to see engineering as an exciting choice by building on the resources developed by the University’s Women in Engineering Student Society
  • Removing barriers to engineering for female students who have not studied physics at A-level by trialling a 4 week pre-sessional physics catch-up course and ongoing tutorial support
  • Recruiting and retaining female engineering talent in Sheffield by helping female academics to progress to professorial roles through tailored support.

"AESSEAL is very proud to support women in engineering and the University of Sheffield. It's something that we're excited to get involved in and that we need to do more of. We invest heavily in our infrastructure in terms of machines and, if our people are our greatest asset, then we don't have enough women, so we need to do something about that."

Stephen Shaw / Engineering director at aesseal 

Jon Hilton, President of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers said:

“Given the engineering skills shortage, we cannot afford to miss out on the talent and ingenuity found in 51% of the population. We would like to thank AESSEAL for supporting the valuable work of the University of Sheffield to support female engineers.”

Dr Rachael Rothman, Faculty Director for Women in Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said:

“Engineering is a hugely varied and exciting career and through this project we aim to provide role models so many more children want to be engineers when they grow up. In terms of engineering progression, only 8% of engineering professors are female and we aim to increase this to 20% by 2025 in line with the proportion of females lower down the career ladder.”