A survey on gender diversity in STEM roles has revealed that career progression, flexible working and an inclusive work culture are key to attracting more female applicants.
The Women in STEM Survey, which was created and delivered via a collaboration between Purpose HR, training management software specialist Administrate, Fintech company Modulr and Girl Geek Scotland, has revealed key insights into what qualified female STEM candidates want when looking for a job.
While identifying the pull factors, the survey also explored the elements that would deter potential candidates from applying for STEM roles, and offered suggestions as to what SMEs can do to remedy this.
It is hoped that the results will translate into actionable insights that can be used by SMEs to improve their recruitment and retention strategies and, in turn, assist businesses to better tailor working conditions to meet those objectives.
Of the 268 respondents, when asked why they would or would not want to work for an SME, more than 50% said they would prefer to work for an SME, while 20% said they would prefer to work for a larger organisation.
According to the respondents, they perceived SMEs as a real opportunity to have an impact on the business, and felt they provided better opportunities for career development and progression.
Other key factors included them being perceived as having a friendly, “family-like” environment, flatter organisational structures, better pay and benefits, a more innovative workplace and greater job security.
The figures revealed that, in order to attract and retain more female candidates, companies need to actively promote flexible working. Flexible working is a clear pull for women, but often they feel they cannot make use of flexi-time for fear of being perceived as lazy. By encouraging a cultural mind shift in regards to flexible working, companies can increase employee retention.
A clear path of career progression was another factor frequently cited by respondents when deciding which companies they would consider when job hunting. Many wanted to have it clearly mapped out how they would develop and progress within an organisation.
To address this issue employers can offer opportunities for learning and development, and take an active role in supporting staff to avail themselves of this offer.
Furthermore, many said a company’s reputation would also influence their decision to apply for or accept a position at an organisation.
For example, has the firm had good reviews on sites such as Glassdoor? Does the company have a policy of reviewing their gender pay gap? Does it collaborate with gender-based industry groups or gender equality networks? And does it host events with female expert key speakers?
According to the results, little to no gender diversity and all male recruitment teams were major drawbacks for companies looking to hire more women.
The survey also focused on the language and placement of job adverts as these can be barriers when companies are trying to recruit more diversely.
The results found that, while women tended to scout for roles on traditional platforms such as LinkedIn, more often they were finding and taking jobs based on reviews and referrals from within their network.
Use of language and job specifications were another factor affecting job applications, as respondents said they would use ads to get an idea of the company’s culture.
Phrases such as “we work hard and play hard” and “you’ll be expected to work additional hours” put many potential candidates off applying as they viewed it as an implication of poor work life balance.
These two results indicate that companies must reconsider how and where they advertise vacancies if they want to reach the right target audience.
The full survey results are due to be released later this week.