How to recruit and retain female engineers

When it comes to women in tech and engineering, the stats say it all.  

Women make up just 21% of the UK’s STEM workforce, and only 11% of the engineering workforce. Only 4% of fellows at the Royal Academy of Engineering are female, and only 20% of tech jobs at Apple are held by women.  

We clearly need more female engineers in the UK. Diversity is crucial for innovation – companies are 15% more likely to perform better if they’re gender diverse. But how can we attract more women to the field and keep them there? 

1. Make quotas… and stick to them 

People often have mixed views about quotas, but they’re a good way to manage and maintain diversity in the workplace. You can set a quota for new female recruits and commit to not having an all-male board. If you have a gender bias at the top, it’s likely to filter down to the rest of your company.  

2. Equal pay  

Since 6th April 2017, all employers with over 250 staff must publish data on their gender pay gap – so if you want to attract more women to your company, make sure there isn’t one! Even if you employ less than 250 employees, you should pay men and women fairly. You’ll increase your reputation in the industry and attract more female recruits – plus, it’s the right thing to do.  

3. Explain your purpose

How you write job descriptions can change how women perceive the role, so it’ll have a real impact on your recruitment rates. Traditional fields like chemical and mechanical engineering have the most gender stereotypes, so these phrases may put women off. Women are more likely to apply for technical roles that are cutting edge, and have a strong purpose and clear social context. They want to know what the job entails and what difference they’ll be making, so include these details in your description.  

4. Apprenticeships 

If you’re a levy-payer, you can use your apprenticeship levy to pay for training and introduce career development schemes. Even if you don’t pay the levy, apprenticeships are a good way to attract high-quality recruits. But apprenticeships aren’t just for school leavers – there are a number of higher apprenticeships that can be used to upskill existing employees or attract new ones to the industry.  

The problem is; engineering apprenticeships are still very male dominated. Women represent just 3% of engineering and 2% of construction apprenticeships – so how can we encourage more women to apply? 

The answer is simple: choose your words wisely. How you pitch your apprenticeship to applicants will impact who applies – it could be the difference between 0 women and 50% women applying… or between attracting the best recruits and the not-so-good recruits. So if you want to increase the quality and diversity of your engineering applicants, follow our dos and don’ts 

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