Fewer than one in 10 engineering professionals in Britain are women, the lowest proportion of female engineers in the EU.
The findings are published in a Government-commissioned review, which says more must be done to encourage young people, particularly girls, to take up the profession.
The review says this may be down to girls' A-level choices, their perceptions of engineering and gender stereotypes in the careers advice students receive.
There is "substantial demand" for engineers in the UK economy, a review has found.
The Government-commissioned review says more must be done to encourage young people, particularly girls, to take up the profession.
Led by Professor John Perkins, chief scientific adviser to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the review calls for employers and professional organisations to step in and work with the Government to address the shortage of skills.
The UK is facing a "critical" lack of skilled workers as firms struggle to recruit suitably-qualified staff, experts have warned.
A survey of almost 300 companies by the CBI found a "stubborn shortage" in the skills industry needs to remain competitive and fuel long-term growth.
The study showed that three out of five firms were struggling to recruit workers with the advanced technical skills they need, and feared shortages will persist for the next three years.
Almost half lacked confidence in being able to take on high-skilled workers, especially in manufacturing, construction and engineering.
One in two of those polled revealed they had to put on basic remedial training for employees, and 55% said school-leavers lacked the right work experience.