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When Dr Udonna Okeke, a lecturer in engineering design and mathematics at UWE Bristol, stepped into a lecture theatre to teach his first class, he noticed immediately how few women there were. Not just that, but how few of those were from black or ethnic minority backgrounds.
The situation isn’t unique to the course he teaches, or to the University of the West of England. “The truth remains that women are under-represented in engineering and technology,” says Okeke. But for him that’s only part of the problem. He cites a 2018 report by Engineering UK which found that only 8.1% of men and women working in engineering were from black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups.
It’s an issue explored by two US organisations, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). According to their report Women of Color in the Engineering Workplace, the challenges faced by women in engineering are often “multiplied for women of colour, who are typically held to stricter standards of competence than whites and are less likely to be recognised for their skills”.
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