Increasing the numbers of women in technology and STEM careers

How do you widen female participation in technology and STEM careers? It’s a question that organisations and higher education seem to have been asking for years, and yet is there any progress being made?

According to HESA 2016/17, percentages of women graduating from technology and STEM courses are low: 18% in Engineering and Tech; 17% in Computer Science and 37% in Mathematics.

But there is evidence that organisations are doing more to encourage diversity in their hires – the ISE Graduate Survey 2018 reveals that 68% of graduate employers state that gender diversity is a high priority and at Capp, I talk about diversity and inclusion every day with clients.

It all starts with the attraction and the assessment of candidates. Focusing on strengths can have a dramatic impact on diversity and inclusion.

Strengths-based assessment helps our clients like BT, Barclays, GSK, Thomson Reuters, Sky and Microsoft achieve Talent Scores with no discernible differences across Gender, Ethnicity or Social Mobility.

For one of our technology clients, apprentice cohorts are 33% female and 33% BAME – significantly higher than the industry average – and for another, there are stable percentages of female and male candidates progressing through each assessment stage.

Many clients have revised their academic requirements to broaden the range of applicants to technical graduate schemes and this approach is delivering results for both gender diversity and social mobility.

Sky makes no degree classification or subject requirement and provides extensive training at induction as well as offering free Get into Tech training courses for women; BT have introduced our virtual reality assessment, eliminating any gender bias that might be evidenced in more traditional technical assessment methods; Microsoft makes no classification requirement but asks for Engineering, Computer Science or a related subject and at EY, there is no degree classification requirement and many of the graduate programmes do not have specific degree subject criteria.

This summer, PwC launched a Flexible Talent Network to further diversify their workforce. It allows candidates to list their skills and preferred work pattern when they apply, with the aim of attracting skilled people who don’t want to be tied to the conventional 9-5 routine.

More than 2,000 people registered in the first two weeks after launch.

Other organisations do more to make women feel comfortable and empowered to develop and progress. Our work with one global technology company creating and managing a female development programme tells us that women often struggle with being themselves – particularly in more male-oriented environments.

Learning which of your strengths you perform well, enjoy and use often, and those which you don’t and understanding how to develop and apply your strengths will boost self-confidence and is at the heart of revealing more of your authentic self, whatever your gender.

Abi Parker, Client Success Director at Capp was talking to a Women’s Networking Alumni event at De Montfort University.

See also De Montfort News