How to Recruit Women in STEM

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For International Women’s Day 2023, Amberjack are releasing four blogs exploring four different industries which struggle with gender diversity. Today, we’re focusing on how to recruit women in STEM.

Women in the UK Workforce 

Since 2010, the number of women in the workforce in the UK has increased by 2 million. Currently, the UK has the second highest level of women in work in the G7. For October to December 2021, the gap between the male and female employment rates was 6.6% points, down from 9.8% a decade ago

Yet, women are still more likely than men to be working part-time, and some industries are struggling more than others with gender diversity. Information and Technology, and Finance and Insurance, are prime examples; both industries face significant challenges with trying to encourage more women to join their workforces. 

With 30% of boardroom seats in the UK held by women, it’s clear that gender parity is still an uphill battle, but with 93% of organisations working towards gender diversity targets, things are on the move. In our blog for International Women’s Day 2023, Amberjack share the experience of women in some of the industries that struggle the most and provide some actionable steps for your recruitment strategy. Specifically, we spoke to women in the STEM, Sales, Finance, and Legal sectors. 

STEM 

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) recruitment often struggles to achieve gender diversity goals. 

Right from the beginning of a recruitment process, applications from women are far fewer than those from men. Only 27% of women say they would consider a career in Technology, with just 3% saying a career in Tech is their first choice. 

In addition to this, despite girls tending to outperform boys in STEM subjects at GCSE level, boys are almost twice as likely to take Maths, over four times as likely to take Physics, and eight times more likely to take Computer Science, at A Level. 

So, how can we make changes to recruitment to help encourage applications from women and increase representation in this industry? Amberjack discussed exactly this with the very people you’re trying to attract… 

Chandini, a Software Engineer Degree Apprentice for a leading technology communications provider, was always interested in technology and software development, particularly front-end development, as it allows for creativity and freedom surrounding projects. As software engineering has many career paths, Chandini gravitated towards the industry, as she considered the sense of variety and ability to change further down the road as important. 

From Chandini’s perspective when searching for roles in the sector, she found it daunting and struggled to see how she would fit into that environment. The traditionally male dominated field can be overwhelming, but Tech Workshops for Women are a route to help combat the initial hesitancy many may have, this is something Chandini’s employer offers.  

This is similar for Maddie, a Data Analyst currently undertaking a Management Degree Apprenticeship within the Financial sector, who thoroughly enjoyed Maths at school and naturally excelled in the subject. She wanted to apply her skills in a business environment, and so embarked on her current career path. Maddie shared that generally she sees more men than women in senior roles and has noticed men progressing more quickly in their careers, though in her own experience has found her ‘inclusive and supportive’ teams to boast an even split of men and women. 

Reflecting on her recruitment experiences in the industry so far, she expressed that she has never felt disadvantaged and knows that should she apply for a different position, she’d get ‘first refusal’ as a woman, but from a personal perspective there is a bit of a ‘confidence thing’ that stops her going for promotions sooner when she feels she’s ‘not ready’. Yet, at the same time she sees male colleagues with similar levels of experience going for more highly paid opportunities. 

The OECD found that the ‘confidence gap’ between men and women is still prevalent. Women have been found to struggle with confidence when pursuing high-paid careers in STEM, despite girls performing better than boys in school. 

Addressing this issue then is one sure-fire way to help encourage women into STEM. If more women feel confident enough to go for promotions, then more women will be visible as role models for upcoming early talent – but how do we kickstart this process? 

Take the initiative! Female students are more likely than males to feel like there are no suitable role models for them in STEM. 83% of female students can’t name an inspirational role model in the sector. Without these role models it is unlikely that significant progress with confidence will be made – it’s a vicious cycle. So, step in and make the first moves. Approach the women in your workforce about promotions. Offer guidance and support sessions to help build confidence. Show them off in promotional activities. Value their opinion, ask them for feedback. Start kindling that confidence from within. 

Stay tuned for our next blogs featuring the Sales and Business Development, Finance, and Legal sectors.

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