06 June 2014
The manufacturing industry should look to primary schools to help attract more women to the boardroom, according to an expert from The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan.)
Dr Nathalie Renevier, senior lecturer at the University, believes primary schools should be doing more to tackle out-dated perceptions and make “unglamorous” careers more relatable to young girls.
Her comments are in response to the EEF ‘Women in Manufacturing’ report which revealed that, although the number of women at board level has increased, further steps need to be taken to develop the representation of women from the factory floor upwards.
Dr Renevier said: “We need to pique girls’ interests in manufacturing at primary school level and sustain it right through education. Subjects like science and technology can be linked with the real manufacturing world from an early age, and the earlier we introduce the industry to women the more relatable it becomes.”
According to Dr Renevier, ‘make and build’ projects and manufacturing days in schools can be used effectively to generate interest in how things are made, particularly if the end product is something which can be used.
She would also like to see an introduction of after school clubs and societies geared towards introducing girls to the practical skills needed in manufacturing.
“We need to pique girls’ interests in manufacturing at primary school level and sustain it right through education."
Dr Renevier added: “There is a perception that a career in manufacturing is dirty or unglamorous, but schools have an opportunity to make girls aware of the multitude of disciplines across the manufacturing industry, such as textiles and 3D conceptualisation, which are often more appealing to females.
“We should also be tackling stereotypes head on. There’s scope for manufacturing businesses to open their doors to schoolchildren so pupils can see for themselves what a day in the industry involves. We need to be showcasing local companies too; the North West was a cradle for the industrial revolution and we’re missing a trick to engage.”
At University level, Dr Renevier feels there could be more focus on linking business with manufacturing.
She said: “In general the UK economy is turned towards the service industry, so women doing business qualifications don’t naturally seek employment in manufacturing and are unlikely to have taken related topics at GCSE and A-Level. We need to start early to attract girls into the physical and formal sciences at school and into physics, engineering and technology degrees at University. We should focus talent pathways, beginning in education and ending in the boardroom.”
'Women in Manufacturing' is the EEF's second annual assessment of the role of women in senior positions in manufacturing, produced in partnership with Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.
Dr Nathalie Renevier is a senior lecturer in tribotechnology (coatings) and course leader for undergraduate maintenance engineering courses at UCLan. She has a physics, material sciences and business background with more than ten years’ experience in the industry across Europe.