Academy sets target to elect half of all new Fellows from groups currently under-represented in the Fellowship


The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) has launched a campaign aimed at delivering a Fellowship that is ‘fit for the future’ by the time it celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2026. This is defined as a Fellowship that embodies the full breadth and diversity of engineering excellence. To achieve this ambition, the Academy is seeking to elect more outstanding candidates who:

  • Are from under-represented groups, including female, black, Asian and minority ethnic, LGBT+ and disabled engineers
  • Have come into engineering via vocational and non-traditional routes
  • Are achieving excellence at an earlier career stage than is typical
  • Work in emerging technologies and new industries, including areas that are important to address major societal challenges.

The Academy has set an aspiration that at least half of all candidates elected each year will be from these target groups, while recognising that this may not be achieved in the early years of the campaign.

To achieve this, the Academy will temporarily raise the number of Fellows that can be elected in any one year from 50 to 60, starting with the Fellows who will be elected in 2021 and concluding in the 50th anniversary year, 2026, and will increase the number of Honorary Fellows that can be elected in 2021 from one to five. It will also scale up efforts to support the important work of the Proactive Nominations Panel in stimulating nominations from candidates who come from under-represented groups, including creating an augmented search process to help identify more candidates who are black or from minority ethnic groups.

In order to allow these changes to be implemented in the forthcoming membership cycle, the deadline for submission of nominations for Fellowship will be extended from 1 September to 1 October 2020.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “It is essential that our Fellowship represents the very best of UK engineering in all its breadth and diversity. Our relevance, credibility and impact are all entirely dependent on our ability to elect and engage Fellows who embody all dimensions of engineering excellence.

Engineering is a living discipline that continues to evolve and we need to make sure our Fellowship continues to be connected to the frontiers of our discipline, as well as reflecting the strength of our engineering heritage.”

Based on the available data, the Academy Fellowship comprises 6.4% female and 6.5% black, Asian and minority ethnic engineers, and the average age at election has been around 55 for several years. Work is underway to collect more data on the Academy Fellowship and those supported by Academy programmes, with an Academy Diversity Data Report due to be published later this year.

Current data on the Fellowship does not fully reflect the engineering workforce in the UK. According to data published by EngineeringUK and drawn from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Force Survey, 12% of engineers are female and 9% of engineers are from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups. There is no equivalent data for LGBT+ and disabled engineers.

Current Academy Fellows and Presidents of the Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) are the only people allowed to make nominations for Fellowship. In addition, the Academy will be seeking suggestions for potential candidates from the leaders of major engineering employers and a range of networks, trade bodies and associations who could help to identify candidates who may be less well known to existing Fellows.

As progress in identifying excellent candidates who are black, Asian or from minority ethnic groups has been slower than hoped, David Waboso CBE FREng will act as a champion for this aspect of the campaign. He will support efforts to identify such candidates and ensure that processes give these candidates a fair chance of success.

The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with its Fellows and partners, it is growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation, building global partnerships, influencing policy and engaging with the public.