The Caja de Ingenieros Foundation seeks to bridge the gender gap in the engineering sector
The Caja de Ingenieros Foundation, an expression of Caja de Ingenieros’ vocation for corporate social responsibility, actively works to support women’s access to engineering and other STEAM professions, for which it is actively working on two projects that affect women in two phases of their academic course. life: when they are elementary school girls and they ignore their potential and the different jobs available to them; and when they are immersed in their higher education or faced with the challenge of entering the workforce.
In this sense, it should be noted that, despite being in the majority in university classes, only 29% of engineering students are women, which means that a large part of the population is under-represented in one sectors with greater employability that is the key to innovation and development of society.
For Iaki Irisarri, coordinator of the Caja de Ingenieros Foundation, it is essential ” to promote female talent in engineering if we are to end the gender gap in one of the most promising sectors. This is why we promote these two programs which, from schools, institutes, universities and work centers, promote diversity in this field, either by promoting STEAM vocations from an early age, or by supporting young people. students and professionals at the start of their careers. ”
In a first phase, the Foundation has ‘Enginy-era’, a project that aims to make STEAM professions known to primary school students in schools in Madrid and Catalonia. Through workshops, professional opportunities are explained to show the diversity demanded by the job market and break with pre-established jobs. In this way, it is possible to awaken vocations so that in the future they will choose to prepare themselves for professions of this type.
‘Enginy-era’, includes carrying out 22 workshops in schools that will impact more than 700 primary school students and teachers. In addition, an indirect impact is estimated at nearly 2,500 people among family and friends. These workshops, lasting approximately one hour, will be led by women and men specialists in each field, always guaranteeing the presence of women at a minimum of 50%.
By the age of six, girls begin to feel less capable than their peers and no longer associate “intellectual brilliance” with their gender. The project aims to break with these stereotypes or any other discrimination through female references from the worlds of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which help to normalize their role in society and achieve equity. in the world of work, equal opportunities and that everyone is free to choose their professional future.
Iaki Irisarri also made it clear that “the promotion of engineering training and the achievement of the SDGs are part of the Foundation’s objectives. We want to contribute to the construction of criteria free from stereotypes from childhood. This is why we decided to carry out this project which is in line with our line of action and responds, at the same time, to several SDGs, such as 4, since it guarantees inclusive education, or SDG 5. , because it aims for equality in education, gender and the empowerment of women and girls. ”
In a second phase of students’ life, the Foundation collaborates with the mentoring project “ Woman and Engineer ” of the Royal Academy of Engineering, whose objective is to provide tools and reference people in the profession in order to that students of recent engineering courses and other STEM studies and young professionals can develop professionally and recognize their own potential in STEAM professions.
Since the launch of the “ Woman and Engineer ” project in 2016, more than 300 professionals with managerial positions and high responsibilities have supported more than 500 students in their placement, sharing their experiences and points of view on the latest training courses. Engineer and other STEAM studies. Support for students and mentoring professionals is free for them thanks to scholarships, such as those awarded by the Caja de Ingenieros Foundation, to ensure equal opportunities.
In STEAM careers, women continue to choose specialties such as health sciences or, if one considers only the techniques, bioengineering. That is, they prefer those branches of knowledge that help improve people’s lives. For this reason, transmitting the human aspect and the social impact that Engineering can have is essential.
“Woman and Engineer” is the answer to the obvious gender gap that exists in the industry. Gender stereotypes, in addition to the lack of female references, are one of the main causes of the shortage of technical vocations among female students. The engineer has the capacity to transform the world. The fact that women are represented in this area means that their needs and ways of doing it will be as well.