A white man in a hard hat? Not on This is Engineering Day

Over 100 major consumer brands and leading businesses join forces to change the face of engineering on This is Engineering Day.

Over 100 major consumer brands and leading businesses have joined forces for This is Engineering Day to tackle the misrepresentation of engineering online.

Amazon, the BBC, Facebook, Ocado and TfL are backing the Royal Academy of Engineering, This is Engineering Day, campaign after an artificial intelligence programme highlighted how unrepresentative online images of the profession are.

Machine learning

The ‘machine learning’ AI algorithm, trained on the results of over 1,000 online searches for images of engineers, was employed to generate artificial images of what it had learnt a typical engineer looked like. Most of the images generated were of a white man wearing a hard hat – despite the fact that only a small minority of professional engineers wear hard hats most of the time.

This outdated stereotype is putting young people off wanting to pursue a career in engineering, with the UK shortfall up to 59,000 engineers each year.  


This is Engineering Day

The Royal Academy of Engineering launched This is Engineering Day to celebrate the unsung contribution that engineers make society. With the support of leading businesses and brands, they are calling on the media, image providers, recruiters and advertisers to paint a more representative picture of the diverse profession and those who work in it.

So far over 100 brands across the UK that depend on engineering have signed a pledge to increase the public visibility of more representative images of engineers and engineering, and helped create a new library of free to use images of engineers that better represent how they truly look.

Dr Hayaatun Sillem, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says: “Engineers play a profoundly important role in shaping the world around us – from designing our cities and transport systems to delivering clean energy solutions, enhancing cybersecurity and advancing healthcare – but that’s simply not reflected in online image searches.  

“That’s why on This is Engineering Day I’m appealing to anyone who uses or promotes images of engineers to join us in challenging outdated and narrow stereotypes of engineering. We want to ensure that engineers are portrayed in a much more representative way and that we help young people see the fantastic variety of opportunities on offer.  

“Engineering is everywhere, and This Is Engineering Day gives us an opportunity to shine a light on the people who make possible so many features of modern life that we take for granted.  I hope that by inviting the public to discover a different side to engineering, we will be able to inspire more people from all parts of society to choose a profession that shapes our world.”

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