Increasing the number of women in science, technology, engineering and maths jobs would boost the Scottish economy, the IET says.
Europe’s largest engineers’ group, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), also pointed out that the proportion of women in STEM jobs has not improved since 2008.
The IET has raised its concerns in evidence submitted to the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Working Group inquiry Lifting Barriers To Women In STEM: A Strategy For Scotland.
“A STEM literate workforce is essential to Scotland’s medium and long-term economic strength,“ said Professor John Roulston, Chair of the IET’s Scotland Policy Panel.
"Change is necessary to ensure Scotland makes full use of its available talent by tackling the under-representation of women.
“Society’s portrayal of engineering as a male career option must be reversed.“
He added that steps could be taken to support women in engineering and make STEM roles more attractive to women, including greater use of flexible working within companies, increased acceptance of career breaks, and more use of part-time career roles.
IET’s ‘Young Woman Engineer of the Year’ Arlene McConnell, a Systems Engineer at Selex Galileo, said: “I know that there are various new initiatives in practice today which try to reverse this trend, from changing young womens' perception of engineering, to ensuring they receive balanced career advice and the right support from industry.
“However, I believe that the 'leaky pipeline' of women flowing into STEM is due to a lack of a single, coherent approach.
“This can only be achieved through consensus, discussion and a unified voice.
“When this is done, we should start to see more and more young women investing their intellect and skills into engineering professions."
The IET supports women in engineering through this award and other initiatives including a Women's Network on Facebook and providing funding to various organisations aimed at attracting women into engineering.
Read more about women in STEM jobs