As Engineering laments the number of young women interested in joining its ranks it could learn a lot from the fashion industry as the recent London Fashion Weekend demonstrated.
Thousands of young women came along for a brief insight into next year's fashion trends. They'd each willingly parted with £30+ to see 2 catwalk shows each lasting no more than 15 minutes and a chance to buy edgy clothes at a discount.
Whilst the event was very professionally stage managed what struck me was that there was no understanding on the part of the consumer as to where and how these clothes come about.
OK there are fashion designers, but they are just a small cog in a sophisticated industry. Without engineering the designer's ideas would come to nothing.
Chemical and materials engineers create new fabrics and textiles. Production is driven by electronic, mechanical and digital processes which enable this industry to churn at an extraordinary pace.
Chemists and researchers develop new cosmetics and toiletries.
Transportation and processing keep the whole system flowing and the customer happy.
With a 95% female audience with time on their hands this is just the opportunity to open eyes and encourage young women see beyond the immediate; to realise there are engineering careers in every sector of our society. You can be an engineer and be in the fashion business.
As an example earlier this year the National Physical Laboratory had an exhibit at the Royal Institute on smart textiles. I should imagine the numbers attending were negligible by comparison with this weekend.
So why wasn't the NPL thinking bigger?
How about cooperating with the fashion world to create a mutually beneficial presence? Such partnerships would be a start on the road to elevating the standing of engineering in the eyes of today's young women.
Instead of just blaming women’s lack of interest in engineering on the toys they played with as infants, engineers need to be less intellectual, think laterally, and embrace the reality of mainstream culture.