WOMEN are still failing to break into the male-dominated world of engineering, according to an expert.

Professor Sarah Spurgeon, of Leicester University, says women could make a healthy contribution to the profession in the future.

She said the UK was missing out on a rich resource because engineering was too male-dominated.

"Although girls tend to do as well or even better than boys at scientific subjects at school, it is still seen as a male arena and girls can be put off taking a subject with a mainly male class," she said.

"It becomes harder to turn this around as fewer girls take the subjects. It can be difficult for young girls to be different from their friends."

Professor Spurgeon suggests that girls should be taught separately from boys in science lessons at school, to help them build up confidence.