On 23rd June, International Women in Engineering Day provided us with a good opportunity to talk to our clients in the STEM industries about attracting more women to work in their sector.
For Leigh Bailey who is a Director at OCZ Storage Solutions, there are still two main challenges. “Firstly, there are too few women taking engineering degrees. Secondly, very few women who do go for a career in engineering return from maternity leave, mainly because most engineering companies are not offering enough flexibility.
Taking the first point, it’s all about education and we need to encourage more female engineers to visit schools and colleges and spread the word about how rewarding a career in engineering can be for women. There is so much opportunity for both men and women but we really do need to improve the gender balance. Having a balanced workforce can only be a good thing and there is a whole pool of young female talent we should be tapping into.
In terms of women returning from maternity leave, we are slowly beginning to see things change. Across the industry, there is definitely more flexible, part-time and home working being introduced but we have a long way to go. In my own team of 30, one of my two female colleagues is part-time and in OCZ the number of colleagues choosing to work part-time is gradually increasing. We are also finding that more men are asking for flexible working arrangements for parental responsibilities which is great and something I know SThree have been doing for some years now.
Because women in engineering haven’t been offered flexible working, there must be a big pool of female talent who have left the industry to take on part-time or flexible roles elsewhere. Companies may want to consider introducing some re-training courses to hopefully attract some of these women back into engineering.
"This day is very important to me as it’s an opportunity to raise awareness of the fantastic opportunities open to women in our wonderful industry and help to change some companies’ thinking that all engineering roles need to be filled by colleagues working full time.”
If you’d like to work in a company that facilitates women working in STEM industries, check out our latest opportunities.