i wonder if this might change in 10-15 years. not just the work which is done by various STEM outreach bodies within schools etc. but also in kids TV. My eldest is 5 and having been forced to watch a lot of kids TV over the last few years it's interesting just how many (very popular) kids shows go on about engineering. Blaze (the talking monster truck) is a good example, each show he will have to overcome challenges where he will outline options A/B/C etc. and will then pause (allowing the kids to shout at the TV) before going with the correct answer.I think engineering is one of those professions which isn't well respected/recognized/paid in this country. That's the impression I get from my day to day dealings anyways. And they wonder why they can't recruit or interest young people in STEM careers. Shameful, in a nation where most of the industrial revolution began. Maybe that's one of the reasons why? They take it for granted and associate engineering with people who fix and repair your boilers, deeply unsexy. When you say you're an engineer in the UK, for most people, it means the guy who comes to fix your boiler or telephone line. Engineers =! Technicians.
Blaze also includes some catch songs about angles and friction (whatever happened to mindless violence?) and in general there is a lot of chat about engineering. Blaze is probably the most popular example i can think of but there are numerous others which do the same. this isnt the same as a 15yo having a conversation with someone and getting interested in a STEM career but i reckon when my son is 15 he'll be more receptive because he'll have been told that engineering is something cool by someone he respects (Blaze).
as for the respect thing, i do think engineers can be a bit precious about this and if it's pay they're worried about then it's probably down to the industry. looking at my contemporaries from uni i'd say the engineers are almost all earning above the graduate mean so it cant be that bad.