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Industrial Director explores and celebrates industries women, following National Women in Engineering Day.

In the second decade of the 21st century we must challenge the notion that there are ‘boys’ jobs’ and ‘girls’ jobs.’ We should all be working to ensure that girls and boys consider the widest range of career options and pick the one that is right for them.

That is why the government supports the ‘Your Life’ campaign. ‘Your Life’ aims to significantly increase the numbers taking A-level Physics and Maths within three years, and double the proportion of undergraduate engineering and technology degrees taken by women to 30% by 2030.

Furthermore, the recently announced employer-led Careers and Enterprise Company will support stronger links between employers, schools and colleges, to encourage them to work together more closely to help young people consider all possible career options.

The government is also committed to supporting working parents in balancing work and family life. This includes reforming the rights of working parents to enable them to share pay and leave in the child’s first year and extending the right to request flexible working to all employees.

Against this backdrop the UK has also made great progress in increasing the representation of women on FTSE 100 boards since 2010, with representation now standing at 23%. Lord Davies’ recommended target of 25% women on boards by 2015 is in sight. Some of the performance leaders across the FTSE 100 are from the manufacturing sector.

Such a constructive approach makes me optimistic for the future but I still encourage all companies to take action now so that the gender balance of boards reflects the gender balance of our society. Companies need to harness all available talent. Better balanced boards are vital to securing the future competitiveness and success of British business.

Jo Swinson MP

Minister for Women and Equalities

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