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The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, with Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus having the most. Dr Nida Naveed is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering at the University of Sunderland. Here, she shares her views on why there are so few female engineers in the UK and offers advice to those thinking of studying this challenging, rewarding and extremely diverse subject. 

What challenges do female engineers face?

“Human beings are the finest creatures in the world. They have the ability to shape their ideas into reality. If anyone wants to pursue any field as a career, they can. It just depends what you want to do. There’s no doubt that engineering is a great option for girls as a career choice. I feel that it’s very important to create awareness among girls, their parents, careers advisors and even the public, of the fact that girls have the same potential and opportunities as boys to excel in the field of engineering, especially in the UK.

“The first and most important thing for girls is that they should be confident in what they do and push themselves out of their comfort zone. You don’t have to be extraordinary to become an engineer. It’s simple: you think creatively and critically about your surroundings and search for reason and logic. Engineering is about understanding how, and why things work. If you’re good at mathematics, it will give you an added advantage, but it’s not essential. You need to work hard in order to get what you want, and also believe in yourself; believe that you can get over any obstacle.”

Female engineers can be involved in all aspects of designing, building and testing new technologies and products and can use their knowledge to provide solutions to complex engineering problems. There are so many different types of engineering roles in which women can excel, as men do, through their engineering knowledge, communication, teamwork and interpersonal skills."

Dr Nida Naveed
Senior Lecturer


What opportunities are there for female engineers?

“The 2017 STEM survey found that 11% of the engineering workforce is female. This is a positive change from 9% in 2015. However, women are still underrepresented. There is a large gap to be filled, and that means lots of opportunities for women to enter the engineering industry. In order to better support female engineers, many companies now offer flexible working arrangement, opportunities to work from home and generous maternity leave policies. This make it a it is a stable career choice for women and a rewarding too.”

My advice to you!

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working in the engineering sector. I feel that it’s given me the opportunity to work with the finest minds, which in turn gives me a sense of confidence at work, as well as the opportunity to develop skills that are in high demand. My advice for all young girls is to be confident and believe in yourselves. Engineering is a noble industry and there is no reason not to join it just because of your gender. Gender is not important, your ambition and quality of work are.”

Engineering female student

Courses we offer

Engineers are revolutionising the way we live. From leading the war against pollution and making cleaner, faster cars, to saving lives by developing the latest medical equipment and bringing the latest ships and aircraft to life.

Here at the University of Sunderland, four of our courses are accredited by The Institution of Engineering and Technology:

We also offer integrated and postgraduate courses:

  • MEng Mechanical Engineering
  • MEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering
  • MEng Manufacturing Engineering

Find the right engineering course for you here.

Dr Nida Naveed teaches modules including Mechanical Technology, Applied Mechanics, Engineering Mechanics, and Engineering Mathematics. Read more about her work at the University of Sunderland

Published: 8 April 2019