Engineering – how the UK has shot itself in the foot

Last night, we went to see “Passengers”, a film about engineering! Two people are stuck on a huge spaceship on a 100+ year journey travelling to a colony planet. Basically, they are awake when they should be in hibernation.

Four things were particularly striking: Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it!


Four main things struck us about the whole trip:


  1. There was an excellent ad by EDF before the film which is clearly focused on promoting engineering careers to women (their Pretty Curious campaign, see

  1. The main character is an engineer and his engineering skills are essential to the plot (he is seen surrounded by various tools and fixes the ship which has a serious fault). How often  do we see engineers as genius problem solvers, which is what they are?


  1. The female character also shows her readiness to use technical skills – she rescues the guy after he is stranded outside the spaceship having fixed it. She also uses the sophisticated equipment to revive him after he has died!


  1. As we left the cinema we overheard four young people who had also been in the same film audience discussing it in French. So, naturally, we spoke to them in French about it. They were delightful, enthusiastic and Belgian. All four were post-graduate Engineering students at Cranfield University. Best of all, two of them (50%!)were female!


We often hear that companies in the UK are having difficulty recruiting engineers – here is the reason why! Even in 2016, British girls are not going into engineering careers. The Women’s Engineering Society  has some very interesting data on the subject, such as only 9% of the UK engineering workforce is female which is the LOWEST IN EUROPE whereas in Bulgaria, Latvia and Cyprus it’s nearly 30%. Also far more girls in India are going into engineering than here (see


Finally a word from Warren Buffet, one of the world’s wealthiest men. He said, about promoting women’s participation in areas where they haven’t been so prevalent “Now we are using 100% of our talent, I am very optimistic”.


Says it all, really…