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Chi Onwurah – Guardian – Friday, 20September 2013 (originally published 16 Sept)
It may not have made the headlines, but roughly the same number of men and women spoke at last week’s British Science festival in Newcastle. With Maggie Aderin-Pocock appearing alongside Robert Winston, the annual week-long celebration of science, engineering and technology achieved gender parity for the second year running, an astounding feat.
Astounding because women make up only 7% of Royal Society fellows, a body for the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists in the UK. Just 6% of professional engineers are women, the lowest proportion in Europe. And, most worryingly, the figures are not improving. A quarter of a century since I studied electrical engineering, still just 13% of engineering undergraduates are female.
Having worked as an engineer for two decades, I generally take a female friend with me to all industry dinners if only to be sure I’m not the only woman at the table, literally and metaphorically. At the festival dinner I found myself next to BSA chair Julia Goodfellow while incoming president Lisa Jardine took to the stage . . .