Ethnic Minorities and Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Groups in Engineering: A Research Report

Cynthia Forson, Moira Calveley, Paul Smith

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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The main aim of this study was to develop a better understanding of the issues and challenges faced by black and minority ethnic (BME) people and those from socio-economically disadvantaged (SED) backgrounds in engineering as a profession. More specifically, the objectives were to increase our understanding of the barriers to participation for those from BME and SED backgrounds in order to identify options to remove barriers for the two groups.

The study is set within the context of negative perceptions and invisibility of the engineering profession ( Engineering UK, 2010). Ӧzbilgin and Tatli (2011) state that a diverse workforce is crucial to innovation and creativity in organisations and this underlies the business case for widening access for underrepresented groups into the profession (Castle, 2013; Royal Academy of Engineering, 2013). In spite of this, although 20 per cent of engineering graduates are from the BME community, only 6 per cent of employed engineers are from BME backgrounds (EngineeringUK, 2013).

Likewise, SED groups are underrepresented in the professions generally (Milburn, 2012). Of course these two groups are not mutually exclusive and, at the intersection of class and ethnicity, people face multiple disadvantages (Healy and Bradley, 2008). It is evident that there is a disparity between employers’ stated and realised equality and diversity objectives and a discrepancy between the aspirations of those from BME and SED groups and their experiences in the engineering sector.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Hertfordshire
Commissioning bodyRoyal Academy of Engineering (RAE)
Number of pages62
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • Diversity
  • Engineering
  • Ethnic Minorities
  • Socio-economic disadvantage


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