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Could More Female Engineers Bridge The Armed Forces' Skills Gap?

Around 30% of the Armed Forces are engineers and technicians, but a recent report revealed that all three services have an increasing...

Even though around 30% of Britain's armed forces are engineers and technicians, a recent report revealed that all three services have an increasing shortfall of engineering skills.

According to the National Audit Office, the military is "significantly" understaffed in critical areas such as engineering, intelligence and logistics. They call it the "largest gap in a decade".

On top of that, another research by the Womens' Engineering Society (WES) found that the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe.

 

So... Could more women fill the armed forces' skills gap?

RAF Cosford delivers all technical and engineering training to every student in the RAF.

Of the 706 personnel working in those areas at the station, only 32 are women.

Aircraftswoman Sophie Hill, one of the trainees, says she knew engineering would have been the perfect career choice since she was young:

"It's always interested me because I have been surrounded by military life quite a lot of the time when I was younger. (...)

"I thought it would just be interesting, and something that I would enjoy."   Her role is vital, as she is one of the last people to work on aircraft before they fly.

Even though engineering has always been a male-dominated job, for many women this is not a brand new concept.

Marie Cross was the first female Weapon Technician to reach the rank of Warrant Officer in the RAF. 

She has served across the world during the career since starting work at RAF Cosford more than 30 years ago:

"I was certainly not a girly girl, I was more interested in helping my dad fix his brakes than I was helping my mother bake cakes, for sure, that's why I wanted to be an engineer.

"I actually didn't know at the time that there was such a low population of females in the Royal Air Force, until when I said I wanted to be a Weapon Technician."

Her advice to future female engineers is to grasp every opportunity and to be the very best that they can.

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