The EqualEngineers Student Wellbeing Survey 2020 will help drive fact-based conversations and policies for engineering students across the UK.
Students preparing for life in our sector face daily challenges within and beyond the academics. They are pressured by issues that could range from the financial, through to dealing with mental health and wellbeing conditions, or the struggle of balancing academics with a salaried work-life (be it as apprentices or for the 59% of students whom the Guardian quoted as working to support their studies).
Moreover, our sector lacks in diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups, and addressing this lack has been proven a route to enhance performance, growth and innovation, as well as improving health, safety and wellbeing.
We believe that listening to the stories these future engineers are coping with everyday must be the first step to challenge the status-quo, and will equip academia and industry with the data and know-how to drive us forward as a sector.
The survey aims to address three main areas: inclusion in engineering courses, mental health and wellbeing, and the recruitment process.
EqualEngineers’ recent research  uncovered some worrying trends in the engineering sector: less than a third of engineers feel included in their workplace; less than a quarter would feel comfortable sharing their mental health challenges, and nearly half are unsure on what to do to progress in their careers.
Do engineering students feel part of their courses they take part in? How is their mental health affected by their courses? Moreover, companies are specifically looking for talented students from underrepresented groups in engineering and technology, but do students feel the incumbent recruitment methods best represent them as individuals?
The survey is the brainchild of Dr Mark McBride-Wright, who set up EqualEngineers, after years of working in the sector and seeing not only the challenges that the lack of diversity can bring, but also the risks posed to health, safety and wellbeing. Being a gay safety engineer himself, and setting up networking group InterEngineering for LGBT+ engineers gave him the drive to set up EqualEngineers as an organisation covering all aspects of diversity.
"For me, inclusivity in the workplace is a health and safety issue. Not being able to be open about who you are, because of attitudes and lack of diversity around you can lead to mental health issues and decreased wellbeing. We see a chronic underconfidence in the engineering students who attend our careers fairs, and we want to identify what the root cause of this is.
My hopes for this survey is to capture the voice of students in the engineering and technology planning to pursue a career in these industries. We need to rapidly overhaul the way in which we approach culture change programmes within our industry, and how we instil as a sense of belonging in future engineers and cultivate inclusive leadership traits in tomorrow's leaders early-on. We need to ensure everyone feels included, and is able to find their voice as part of the diversity narrative."