A new mentoring scheme aims to boost the prospects of women working in aerospace.
Launched earlier this month on International Women’s Day, the online platform will offer users backing and guidance from other women employed in the sector.
“The UK is the country in Europe that has the least amount of women in engineering, and this includes the aerospace industry,” said UWE Bristol project leader, Sue Durbin, a specialist in gender inequalities in male-dominated industries. “Through this project, we want to empower women to gain confidence by receiving non-judgmental female-to-female advice and support, thereby enabling their careers to take off.”
The platform marks phase two of the alta project, originally launched in 2015 to provide career and social support to women; change the way they are perceived in male-dominated industries; and put an end to gender inequality in engineering. It is a partnership between UWE Bristol, the Royal Aeronautical Society,( RAeS) Airbus, Little Blue Private Jets, and the Royal Air Force, with additional support from Collins Aerospace.
The new platform is run by the RAeS as part of its commitment to delivering on the pledges it made as a supporter of the Women in Aviation Charter. Participants will answer a series of questions online, before the website’s algorithm matches up the mentee with a compatible mentor.
The platform also contains a wealth of information to support the mentoring journey, including videos produced by the alta partners, a dedicated handbook with in-depth advice and guidance, as well access to other mentoring materials produced by platform developers, Perform Learn Develop.
In addition to the platform, there will be alta networking and mentoring events throughout the year to help mentors and mentees meet face-to-face, as well as provide insights into career development and management.
Sarah Minett, chair of RAeS’ Women in Aerospace and Aviation Committee, said: “Our new alta platform will provide a fantastic source of support, enabling women to connect with experienced females in key roles in the industry, including senior leadership, flight deck and engineering roles. We hope to see greater retention of women within the sector as well as more women returning to the industry after caring breaks. In turn, this will contribute to companies’ efforts to close the gender pay gap and help build more balanced and diverse organisations.”
Professor Durbin added: “Such assistance can help women feel valued, assist them in getting into leadership positions, and increase female retention in the industry. It might also help them gain confidence, receive assistance when they are returning to work after a maternity break, or reduce their suffering from ‘impostor syndrome,’ whereby they feel they don’t deserve to thrive in a male-dominated workplace.”
The mentoring project comes at a time when many young women taking STEM subjects are failing to enter the engineering workforce. Women engineers also often drop out of the industry or fail to return after maternity leave.
Organisations looking to help can become alta supporters by making a small donation to ensure its ongoing development and support.
Click here to visit alta’s online platform.