RAEng working to deliver more representative Fellowship

Article by Amanda Jasi

THE UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) has launched a campaign aiming to deliver a Fellowship that is “Fit for the Future” – one that “embodies the full breadth and diversity of engineering excellence” – by 2026, RAEng’s 50th anniversary year. To achieve this, it has set the goal that at least half of all elected candidates will come from target groups.

According to RAEng, its Fellowship represents the nation’s best engineering researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and business and industry leaders. By invitation only, about 50 Fellows are elected each year by peer review nominations made by existing Fellows. International and Honorary Fellows are also elected.

Data currently available on the RAEng Fellowship shows that it comprises 6.4% female and 6.5% black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) engineers, says RAEng. Additionally, the average age at election has been about 55 years for several years.

RAEng is seeking to elect more “outstanding” candidates to its Fellowship who:

  • are from under-represented groups, including female, BAME, LGBT+, and disabled engineers;
  • came into engineering via vocational and non-traditional routes;
  • are “achieving excellence” at an earlier career stage than is typical; and
  • work in emerging technologies and new industries, including those that are important for addressing major societal challenges.

To help achieve its goal for its Fellowship, RAEng is implementing changes to elections. Firstly, the Academy is temporarily increasing the number of Fellows that can be elected each year from 50 to 60. This increase will stand for Fellows elected in 2021 and will conclude in 2026.

RAEng will also scale up its efforts to support work done by the Proactive Nominations Panel to stimulate Fellowship nominations from candidates who come from under-represented groups. This will include creating an augmented search process to help identify more candidates who are black or from minority ethnic groups.

Additionally, RAEng is increasing the number of Honorary Fellows that can be elected in 2021 from one to five.

To enable the changes to be implemented in the forthcoming membership cycle, RAEng has extended the deadline for submission of Fellowship nominations from 1 September to 1 October 2020.

Only current RAEng Fellows and Presidents of the professional engineering institutions (PEIs) are allowed to make nominations for the Fellowship. RAEng also intends to seek suggestions for potential candidates from the leaders of major engineering employers, as well as a range of networks, trade bodies, and associations that can help to identify candidates that may be less known to existing Fellows.

Progress on identifying excellent candidates within BAME groups has been slower than hoped, so David Waboso CBE, Fellow of RAEng, will act as a champion for this aspect of the campaign. He will support efforts to identify BAME candidates and ensure that processes offer them a “fair chance at success”.

Sir Jim McDonald, Fellow and President of RAEng, said: “It is essential that our Fellowship represents the very best of UK engineering in all its breadth and diversity. Our relevance, credibility and impact are all entirely dependent on our ability to elect and engage Fellows who embody all dimensions of engineering excellence.

“Engineering is a living discipline which continues to evolve, and we need to make sure our Fellowship continues to be connected to the frontiers of our discipline as well as reflecting the strength of our engineering heritage.”

Currently work is underway to collect more data on RAEng’s Fellowship and those supported by RAEng programmes, and the Academy Diversity Data Report is due to be published later this year. Existing data on the Fellowship does not fully reflect the UK’s engineering workforce.

According to data published by EngineeringUK, 12% of people in engineering roles are female (compared with 47% of the overall UK workforce) and 9% are from BAME groups (compared with 12% of the UK workforce). There is no equivalent data for LGBT+ and disabled engineers.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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