Diversity in engineering is a big topic in Ireland and around the world. The equation is simple – we need more people, regardless of who they are, to become engineers, both to meet demand and to ensure we have equality in the workforce. However, solutions to the problem can be challenging. At the very least, we need more open dialogue and honesty in the engineering profession, and we need to do more.
Often discussions about diversity in engineering centre on women. Of course, that is an important topic as women are grossly under-represented in the profession. Gender isn’t the only diversity issue facing engineering, however.
As it is Pride Month, the representation of the LGBTQ community in engineering comes into focus. In addition, the experience of LGBTQ engineers is also important to discuss.
What do we know? We know that LGBTQ STEM students are more likely to drop out before finishing their degrees than their peers. We know a large percentage of LGBTQ people in STEM careers haven’t come out to their colleagues – more than 40 percent. We know one-in-three physicists in the US are told to stay in the closet. We know that LGBTQ STEM professionals are more open about their sexuality when they work in fields with a higher-than-average representation of women.
Keith Moran, CEO of SL Controls, said: “More research on the representation of the LGBTQ community in STEM, and in engineering more specifically, would shed further light on this issue. It would also help to have further research on the experiences of LGBTQ engineers. My hunch, however, is the research we have is only scratching the surface.
“At SL Controls, we are acutely aware of the need to bring more people into engineering. We work to address this in a range of different ways, including building close relationships with educational institutions in Ireland. We are also a founder of the Equipment Systems Engineering Academy, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes a new and increasingly important field of engineering that is central to the services we deliver to clients.
“Our perspective is that we want everyone, regardless of who they are, to consider pursuing a career in engineering. It is also important to acknowledge that the industry we are a part of and that I am so passionate about has not done enough for several sectors in society, including the LGBTQ community.
“We are committed at SL Controls to ensuring we have an open and inclusive workplace where engineers and others can develop and move forward in their careers in a supportive environment, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, or cultural background.”