How You Can Help to Narrow the Gender Gap in Your Industry

Gender gaps are a hot topic right now and rightly so. Recent research has brought to light that male employees considerably outnumber female employees in a number of key industries, particularly STEM. STEM professionals are vital for the long-term growth strategy of technology-based industries. But unfortunately there aren’t enough professionals with the right skills required to work within these industries. In fact, it’s estimated that the STEM worker shortfall in the UK is estimated to be 69,000.

If you’re regularly looking to recruit new talent for your organisation, being unable to find skilled professionals is likely to be something you come across time and time again. If there were more women out there with the right skillset, this would be a convenient solution to this issue. However, unfortunately, this is more of a dream rather than a reality.

Even though they perform well in STEM based subjects at school, recent statistics highlight that around 50,000 talented school girls turn away from these subject each year. This could be caused by traditional stereotypes that tell women that there is no place for them within STEM industries, which ultimately deters them from pursuing this line of work. The loss of these potentially skilled STEM practitioners only deepens the skills crisis in STEM.

However, with the right initiatives and work-based culture, women could positively help to plug this skills gap. STEM workplaces would become more diverse and reflect wider society if more female professionals were encouraged to join them; it makes business sense and creates a more inclusive environment.

So, what can your organisation do to help narrow the gender gap in STEM industries?

Have a say in your organisation’s policy

Creating a more inclusive work culture is about putting policies in place that value women’s contributions as much as men’s. For example, when you look at work leave policies, it’s effective to provide more flexibility with maternity and paternity leave.

By providing substantial maternity and paternity packages, you can apply policy that gives men and women equal chances to develop skills and progress in their careers.

It goes without saying that if you have access to company data about pay or can issue a pay audit then ensuring that women are paid equally to men and are subject to the same pay rises is crucial.

When women see generous maternity and paternity policy, flexible working conditions and a positive record on equal pay they will be more inclined to work for an organisation that values them and their contributions.

Encourage women to go for leadership positions

Women are more likely to apply for industries where they can see that other women are engaging in healthy career progression and moving into leadership positions. This shows that an industry values its female employees and is not putting barriers in place to prevent them from advancing.

Studies show that organisations with a leadership team made up of 30% women will see up to a 6% higher net margin than organisations without women in their leadership teams too.

Increasing gender parity stimulates growth and shows your organisation is inclusive. Putting a mentorship team in place to encourage women and help them to develop their skills can give them the confidence to apply for leadership roles.

Outreach programmes and apprenticeships

Putting apprenticeship schemes in place, especially for female school leavers, are a great way to nurture talent and bring future leaders into your organisation. You can show that you are committed to narrowing the gender pay gap and that there is a place for women in your work culture.

Going out to schools or working with universities to encourage girls to continue with STEM subjects is vitally important. You can provide information about your industry, give taster sessions and offer mentorship schemes which help young women to improve skills and create a connection with your organisation. This should help to prevent so many girls from turning away from STEM and show them that there is definitely a place for them within these industries. 

The only way to handle the gender gap issue within STEM industries is by actively encouraging more young women to pursue training, education and careers within these fields. This will help to turn STEM into a more inclusive field with a greater gender-balanced workforce that can achieve greater scientific and technological advancements.

Studies have found that knowledge in scientific fields expands when more women are involved,  which highlights the power of collaboration between males and female STEM employees. So not only is hiring more female professionals into your STEM organisation the morally right thing to do, it’s also one that will benefit you greatly. So what are you waiting for? Start narrowing the gap and start utilising the positive impact of girl power in STEM industries today.

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Lauren Oakley

29th March

Industry Insight