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“This is Engineering” Year sees 13% Fall in Use of Hard Hats to Depict Engineers

David Falzani MBE, President of Sainsbury Management Fellows

In a year when institutions, companies and the Government are working hard to change the image of engineering careers through the This is Engineering campaign, Sainsbury Management Fellows (SMF) has announced that its 2018 Hard Hat Index recorded a 13.28% drop in the use of hard hats in the engineering media compared to the 2017 Index.

The most significant fall has come from engineering advertisements in the 17 publications that SMF has monitored for six consecutive years.

Strongest Fall Comes from Advertising

Comparing the 2018 Hard Hat Index with the 2017 Index, a big fall has come from advertisements, with a 31% decline in the publication of hard hat images.  The 2017 Hard Hat Index recorded 129 adverts depicting engineering careers, courses, innovation, products and services using hard hat images compared to this year’s Index which features just 89 such images – the lowest in four years.

Royal Academy of Engineering Says…

Dr Hayaatun Sillem, CEO, Royal Academy of Engineering said:

“The classic shorthand image of an engineer as someone in a hard hat perpetuates a narrow view of what is, in fact, a very varied profession. If we are going to address the persistent skills and diversity shortfall in the profession it is really important that we show what engineers really look like, and while some engineers necessarily wear hard hats, many do not.

“We want people to know about the exciting variety of opportunities that exist within the field of engineering, and encourage young people from all backgrounds to explore the different options that are available.  That is why we are running a campaign to reach teenagers called This is Engineering, which paints a very broad picture of engineering  to challenge students’ perceptions of what an engineer is and does.”

Editorial Moving in Right Direction    

In 2017 the Hard Hat Index showed an impressive fall of almost 20% in the use of hard hats in editorials (from 158 in 2016 down to 127 in 2017) but that success has been slightly dented in the 2018 Index by an increase of six (4.5%) hard hats appearing in editorials. 


Despite this year’s blip in the editorial figure, the fall in the use of hard hats to depict engineering is moving in the right direction. Comparing the 2018 and 2015 Indexes, the current Index shows positive results – an 11.33% decline in hard hats used in editorial and nearly 17% fall in the use of hard hats in adverts.

David Falzani100x100David Falzani MBE, President of Sainsbury Management Fellows said:

“Many engineering publications have run articles about This is Engineering’s endeavours to re-brand the image of engineering to attract much-needed talent into our profession. 

“The campaign eliminates stereotypical images and instead uses thought-provoking images and messages with the aim of stimulating greater interest in diverse engineering careers. It will be a huge achievement if these messages penetrate corporate advertising and editorial and result in even fewer hard hat images being published next year.”

Sainsbury Management Fellows is the MBA scholarship scheme of Engineers in Business Fellowship. Engineers in Business Fellowship is a registered charity that promotes the importance and value of business education for engineers in order to improve people’s lives and the performance of the UK and global economies.

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