Male executives need to challenge some of their perceptions and do more to create opportunities for women to build careers in science and engineering.

That was one of the conclusions from the Men of Action – WISE World Café event organised by Amec Foster Wheeler.

Held at Booths Park, Knutsford, in conjunction with WISE, the campaign to improve gender balance in science, technology and engineering, the breakfast meeting attracted more than 50 business leaders from the nuclear, engineering, construction and professional services sectors.

Mentoring and increased opportunities for flexible working were some of the practical steps suggested to tackle gender inequality in the UK’s scientific workforce. Suzy Firkin, WISE’s Development Director, said the actual risk of flexible working was much smaller than it is perceived to be.

There is a global shortage of scientists and technicians. In the UK, women make up 14.4% of all people working in STEM occupations and less than 10% of the engineering workforce. Industry cannot afford to miss out on half of our potential talent pool.

It was encouraging to meet so many decision makers who are willing to take the time to discuss practical steps to help women achieve their full potential.

Tom Jones, Vice President of Amec Foster Wheeler’s Clean Energy business