TRY Engineering to tackle female underrepresentation in engineering and rugby

5 May 2021

Dyson and Bath Rugby today present TRY Engineering - a progressive new programme aimed at breaking the barriers which lead to female underrepresentation in engineering and rugby.

The scheme has been designed for girls aged between 14-18 to support the industry-wide challenge of females choosing engineering as a career and to encourage the growth of participation in sport amongst the same group of young women. 

The free of charge schools programme, which will introduce over 200 girls to engineering and touch rugby within its first year, launches in seven schools this week and is the first of its kind in the UK.

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Offering a series of inspiring learning sessions - designed by Dyson’s leading engineers and delivered by Bath Rugby’s Community Coaches - young women will discover the extraordinary possibilities of engineering in the classroom, whilst experiencing the exhilaration of touch rugby out on the field.

Research [1] shows that girls are missing out on the lifelong rewards of sport with the teenage years and transition to adulthood being the key time when drop out is at its highest.

The habits and attitudes formed during this phase of life have a fundamental long-term impact on future engagement in sport. TRY Engineering aims to stop this cycle in its tracks and prevent the barriers, which reduce participation over time, from ever being built.

In 2019 the Office of National Statistics estimated that there are over 2.1 million girls aged 11-16 in the UK.  According to Sport England, most of these are missing out on the benefits of sport and by age 13-16 only 10% achieve the recommended levels of 60 mins of physical activity every day, compared to 16% of boys.[3]

Engineering has a similar story, according to the Women’s Engineering Society only 12.37% of engineers in the UK are women, which is the lowest across Europe [1]. Furthermore, research from the Engineering Council in 2019 uncovered that boys have more positive views of engineering than girls even in primary school, which highlights a real need for initiatives such as the TRY Engineering programme and encourage more children to consider a career in engineering.   

TRY Engineering

Clare Dunbar, Managing Director, Dyson Great Britain & Ireland believes that eradicating the barriers which prevent young women from entering the engineering industry is the key to solving this long-standing challenge. Adding to the important work Dyson continue to deliver in this area, she commented: 

“Historically, the UK has always seen a lack of women pursue a career in engineering and design, but at Dyson, we want to challenge this notion and encourage more diversity and inclusion within the sector. We do this by focusing on school children and nurturing their natural curiosity for problem solving.

“Through the work of the James Dyson Foundation we are dispelling the myths that engineering is about mess and oily rags – and by encouraging them to be hands-on and practical at a young age, we highlight the vast array of opportunities and just how rewarding a career in engineering and design can really be. 

“Similarly, we now have the Dyson Institute of Engineering Technology – which is our on campus university in Malmesbury. The pick-up amongst girls has been particularly striking – our current cohorts are made up of 33% female students compared to a national average of 15%. We would like many more women in engineering and hope that the TRY Engineering programme will inspire young students and highlight that engineering is accessible to all.”

Tarquin McDonald, Bath Rugby Chief Executive added:

“We have designed this programme in partnership with Dyson to try and break the cycle of young women dropping out of sport during their teenage years. We want to find new ways to reframe and support sport to continue to play a meaningful role in women’s lives. We know that there are many complex barriers, and this is no easy solution, but today is an important step no less.

“I feel very proud to be working with our long-term partner, Dyson, to tackle such an important challenge. It shows how rich our partnership has grown to become and paves the way for an exciting future for all.”

Siona Tebbutt, Senior UI Design Engineer at Dyson helped with the delivery and training of the James Dyson Foundation assets for the TRY Engineering programme, she commented:

“My work with the James Dyson Foundation involved working in schools to demonstrate the broad range of engineering careers out there, and to encourage girls to consider STEM subjects in further education. In the sessions, it was clear to see the passion and enthusiasm girls have in the engineering challenges we set. 

“I hope this initiative will further add that spark of curiosity in young minds, and break through barriers that girls may have faced in the past – as well as providing the opportunity for more young people to give it a try and potentially find a new passion which they might have otherwise missed out on.”

To enable each school to continue this meaningful programme beyond its introduction, each school will be gifted touch rugby equipment and provided with a toolkit of further James Dyson Foundation learning session plans.

We want TRY Engineering to grow beyond our region and to become a long-term, sustainable programme in schools, enabling thousands of young women to learn about the value skills they can gain through engineering and rugby.

Right now, our team are delivering in Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset.  If you’re a school in our region and would like to know more about TRY Engineering please email community@bathrugby.com.

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References 

[1] https://www.womeninsport.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Reframing-Sport-for-Teenage-Girls-small.pdf

[2]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/datasets/populationestimatesforukenglandandwalesscotlandandnorthernireland

[3] https://sportengland-production-files.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/2020-01/active-lives-children-survey-academic-year-17-18.pdf?xVTC3GjMBDRdGi6cTYQrGsSd2IzKHjCu

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