Ahead of Women in Engineering Day on the 23rd of June, Lucy Speed, HR advisor at engineering solutions provider Boulting Ltd, looked into was employers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) industries can do to attract more females into the sector.
- Role models and mentors
Adopting a mentorship or simple ‘buddy’ system can help women that are joining the workplace feel like they aren’t alone in a disproportionate sector. Pairing employees up to share experience and knowledge helps to create an inclusive environment and can be beneficial in terms of retaining staff that thrive with social stimulation, particularly women.
- Flexibility is key
Providing a work environment that accommodates flexibility for different personal needs can also be beneficial in attracting female employees. Having an understanding for an individual’s needs, whether that be childcare requirements or being able to schedule time off work around holidays will allow your team members to reaffirm their work-life balance.
- Young minds
Lucy argued that by capturing the minds of the next generation of female STEM graduates, the industry will begin to see an increase in the number of girls pursuing a career in the sector. Integrating STEM-style learning through dedicated activities or guest speaker sessions from those in the industry into classrooms, will begin to pave the way for students to consider their future paths.
Moreover, teachers should be supported to understand what a STEM career can actually entail will open up conversations with students about what is possible. Additionally, organisations, like Boulting, that incorporate student reach-out or collaboration programmes to help harness the enthusiasm and talent from younger generations has the potential to lead to more interest in STEM education and apprenticeship opportunities.
While some progress has been made to encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM industries, women are still firmly in the minority, particularly in UK engineering, which, according to the Women in Engineering Society (WES), has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe and only 11% of the engineering workforce is female.
It’s important for organisations in the engineering sector to recognise the importance and potential of the future female workforce and secure any opportunity to help promote science, technology, engineering and maths as an exciting and rewarding prospective career path.