A campaign has been launched to encourage more women to study and work in engineering.

Industry bodies Scottish Engineering and Semta have joined with equality organisation Equate Scotland to provide specialist training for employers in the sector to create inclusive workplaces.

It is hoped the move will help employers to attract and retain a diverse range of candidates.

According to Scottish Government figures derived from SQA data last year, only 27% of higher physics and 10% of higher engineering science pupils were female.

Figures also indicate only 16% of students studying undergraduate degrees in engineering and technology are female, while the proportion is 18% for those in engineering or architectural activities.

The project also aims to highlight good practice in the sector and provide an advice line to support employers in taking forward positive action programmes to rapidly increase the number of women pursuing a career in engineering.

Talat Yaqoob, Equate Scotland director said:  “This project is an opportunity to transform the engineering sector into a place more women are enthusiastic about working in, as well as challenging and changing exclusionary work practices.

“We want girls to see their future in this sector but to do that we need employers to work with us on changing the perceptions of engineering and ensure that women who are currently working in the sector have positive experiences to share.

“Scotland needs more STEM skills and needs more qualified engineers, women should be seen and invested in as a valued solution to the skills shortage.”

Paul Sheerin,  Scottish Engineering chief executive, said: “Across engineering and manufacturing in Scotland, businesses recognise that we continue to lose out on achieving our fair share of 50% of the smartest people available to our industry, with the consequential detriment to our skills pool.

“There are many ways we need to work to improve that balance, but we believe this initiative is one of the key drivers to making working in engineering and manufacturing more attractive to all potential candidates.”

Ann Watson, Semta Group chief executive, said: “The role of Scotland’s engineering and manufacturing companies in delivering employment and growth is intrinsic to the UK economy.

“Thanks to the way the fourth industrial revolution is changing what an engineer does and how they do it, we are now in a prime era of being able to impact the ever increasing skills gap and productivity levels in the sector by re-addressing what engineering is perceived to be.

“Although this isn’t something that occurs overnight, we look to address the future needs of the workforce through the recognition of underutilised skills across the gender mix.

“Females as a group are grossly underrepresented but hold all of the skills and attributes needed to have a successful career in engineering, therefore we wish to educate, making the sector more inviting than ever.”

Jamie Hepburn, Business, Fair Work and Skills Minister said: “The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring the engineering sector continues to benefit from a population equipped with the skills, knowledge and capability to adapt and thrive in the fast paced changing world and economy around us.

“Through our STEM Education and Training Strategy, we want to inspire everyone to study STEM subjects.

“We particularly want to tackle occupational segregation in the STEM sector by encouraging more women and girls to consider the opportunities a career in engineering can offer.

““We also recognise the need to work with employers to ensure workplaces are supportive of and attractive to an increasingly diverse workforce.

“I am pleased the Scottish Government is supporting Equate Scotland and Scottish Engineering to work with small and medium enterprises in Scotland to consider how they can attract more women into engineering.”