Why we need to recruit more women to STEM workforce

Currently just 12% of managers in STEM sectors are women and 73% of STEM women graduates do not stay in the sector long term. Things need to change – and here’s how they can

We need 140,000 more engineers over the next 5 years in Scotland and we have 10,000 digital technology vacancies per year. To be globally competitive in growing markets, we need an engaged and skilled STEM workforce.

Given that science, engineering and technology are the sectors where the jobs of the future will exist, it is no surprise that there is so much emphasis on ensuring young people are aware of these opportunities and that the under-representation of women is tackled.

Currently only 12% of managers in STEM sectors are women and a whopping 73% of STEM women graduates do not stay in the sector long term.

The business case for gender equality in STEM is well known: diversity in thinking and decision making increases productivity, profitability and innovation. At Equate Scotland we have been the national expert on these issues since 2006 and we are progressing to recruit, retain and promote more women.

However, to make faster change, the time is now to be bolder in our efforts on gender equality in STEM and there are two key ways employers can work with us to make this happen. We need to embed equality and diversity across workplace cultures.

When we engage with an organisation, we often find that it is the enthusiasm or vision of one or two people who want to engage with the gender equality agenda, they will do a great amount of work, but too often it is in isolation, not embedded across the organisation and not embedded in strategy; when these enthusiastic people leave an organisation, the learning and enthusiasm can leave too.

We need equality and diversity to not just be the job of someone in HR or someone who shows a personal enthusiasm for it, but instead an expectation of all in the organisation and an expectation which encourages enthusiasm and greater understanding.

To enable organisations to do this, Equate Scotland have an array of training packages which deal with embedding gender equality, getting people on board with equality and diversity, unconscious bias and specific training for managers on how they pursue equality in their everyday work. To make a lasting difference, we need lasting legacies within companies.

The second way employers can work with us will be launched in Autumn 2018 and we hope goes some way to overcome the challenge we hear often from STEM employers; “women just don’t apply for our jobs”.

We are launching a recruitment hub which will include guidance on equality and diversity in language, gender bias checks on job descriptions and adverts, and a platform to promote job adverts directly to the wide audience of women we work with.

Working with us, we hope to provide a direct link to qualified women, from graduates to senior managers, who companies may otherwise be missing in their recruitment outreach. The service is being launched after multiple STEM companies approached us to support and promote their recruitment efforts.

When reviewing this with women themselves, many stated that seeing companies publicise their jobs through such a platform would reassure them that they were actively seeking to create more inclusive workplaces and were taking gender equality issues seriously.

Equate Scotland’s recruitment platform will be the first of its kind in Scotland and we hope will assist employers and women in equal measure.

Whilst there is no silver bullet which can tackle gender inequality in STEM overnight, we know that multiple interventions, delivered with experts, can and will make a difference to Scotland’s STEM sectors.

Written by Philip Gates, Featured in  Insider.co.uk – https://www.insider.co.uk/special-reports/equate-scotland-stem-workforce-women-12494791

 

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