Successful female engineering students in Burton are helping stamp out outdated gender stereotypes of careers in industry, say senior teachers at Burton and South Derbyshire College.

Jo Foster from the Institution of Engineering and Technology is championing equality and diversity after research showed most youngsters believe a typical engineer to be a white, middle-aged male.

A survey of more than 1,000 children aged nine to 16 showed that fewer than one in 10 described a typical engineer as a woman.

The research also revealed that many schoolchildren believed engineers have glasses, beards and short brown hair, and wear hard hats, protective eyewear and high-visibility jackets.

Jo, the IET's diversity and inclusion manager, said: "These outdated and fixed ideas of what a 'typical engineer' looks like are damaging to the industry, especially when the significant shortage of engineers in the UK is posing a serious threat to the economy.

"Currently only nine per cent of engineers are female, the lowest in Europe. Wide-ranging reasons have been cited for this lack of women, from gender stereotyping and limited female role models to misconceptions about the job itself and parental attitudes.

Engineering bosses have warned that outdated stereotypes about engineers are damaging the industry

"Engineering is perceived as masculine, unglamorous and usually depicts people wearing hard hats and overalls. The reality is very different. You don't need a hard hat or high-vis jacket to be a ground-breaking engineer."

The same views were echoed by Geraint Davies, deputy director of Curriculum, Construction and Engineering Skills at Burton and South Derbyshire College.

Mr Davies said "equality and diversity is at the heart of all we do" and was reflected in the success of female and male students including plumbing apprentice, Tayla Wileman, who recently won the HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year competition.

Earlier this year the Burton Mail reported that Tayla, from Church Gresley, became the first female winner of a national plumbing competition.

The 18-year-old, who is an apprentice at CV Lane and Son Plumbing and Heating Contractors, in Coalville, was one of eight finalists from seven regions across the UK who attended the two-day final at the ADEY Training and Conference Centre, in Cheltenham.

Miss Wileman, who originally wanted to be a hairdresser or a beautician, changed her mind after helping her dad with a house renovation.

Tayla Wileman, from Church Gresley, is the perfect example of why the stereotypes surrounding engineers are outdated

Mr Davies said: "We are committed to ensuring our courses are open to all learners. This includes actively promoting courses to under-represented groups and removing barriers to learning. We are passionate about encouraging people to defy outdated stereotypes and giving everybody the opportunity to gain the skills they need to make an impact on their chosen industry.

"For example, we currently have several female construction and engineering students, including plumbing apprentice, Tayla Wileman, who recently won the HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year competition. Two of our female learners, Jodie Allen and Katarzyna Cifci, were also awarded joint winners of a student of the year initiative through St Modwen Homes, and are now working for the company as trainee site engineers/managers.

"The engineering industry has got an ageing workforce; there are fantastic opportunities for young people to fill the skills gaps and enjoy an exciting career in their chosen field of engineering."

Anyone interested in enrolling on an engineering course at Burton and South Derbyshire College can find out more information on the website at , call 01283 494400 or register for the next Open Day taking place on Saturday, January 20, via .