Written by Nicola Buckley, EVP, Global Service Delivery, Park Place Technologies
In the spirit of March, with International Women’s Day coming up on the 8th March, we want to take a moment to celebrate the strides made by women to increase gender diversity in STEM. In recent years, there has been an amplification of important dialogue around Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) initiatives calling on companies to do their part when it comes to equitable hiring practices, retention and increasing access to STEM resources among underrepresented communities.
A 2018 Women’s Engineering Society UK report showed great gender disparity in the engineering and tech fields.
- 12.37% of all engineers are women in the UK.
- 21.80% women work in the engineering sector (incl. engineers)
- 22.2% of students starting A Level Physics in 2018 were female
- Girls and women make up less than 18% of higher apprentices in engineering and manufacturing, and 7.4% of all engineering apprentices.
Park Place Technologies, in partnership with I Wish, a community committed to showcasing the power of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths to teenage girls, has been working for several years to introduce young girls to careers in STEM by providing access to both education and technology. We participated in the TechForGood campaign, facilitated by I Wish, which aimed to facilitate zero-waste laptop recycling by donating refurbished laptops to female students in Ireland who have limited or no access to technology. Last month, we also helped promote I Wish’s fourth Women in STEM event dedicated to introducing young girls to opportunities in these fields. Through our global network of 21,500 customers and our channel partners, we helped reach more than 15,000 viewers in 19 countries around the world.
There is no quick fix to the lack of diversity in STEM; it requires industry-wide commitment to solving the challenge together. Political, economic and social events have also impacted hiring and retention, namely the pandemic and “The Great Resignation.”
RETAINING TALENT AND THE GREAT RESIGNATION
One in three women globally considered quitting their job last year, according to the National Women’s Law Center in the US. Since February 2020, the workforce participation rate for women hit its lowest point in 30+ years. In promoting diversity, retaining talent is just as important as recruiting new employees, and a great method of doing so is through training, mentoring and promoting within your organisation.
EQUITABLE HIRING STRATEGIES
High resignation rates call for innovative hiring strategies. Now more than ever, companies are competing for a very limited pool of technical talent. New job opportunities in STEM are popping up faster than candidates are able to fill them, and this trend is not expected to slow down. Increasing representation in STEM among any minority group requires proactive, deliberate action. According to Indeed, job postings on the site in diversity, inclusion and belonging (DI&B) rose 123% between May and September 2020.
There is specific data that shows an earnings gap in Europe. The European Union “Women’s Situation in the Labour Market” survey reports that “The gender pay gap in the EU stands at 14.1% and has only changed minimally over the last decade. It means that women earn 14.1% on average less per hour than men.”
The real end goal should be to establish a community among all STEM industries where our experts are representative of the people that we serve. Greater diversity has been linked to business outperformance as well. A global McKinsey study showed that the top quartile of organizations based on gender diversity exceeded the bottom quartile’s financial performance by 25%. When ranked based on ethnic diversity, companies in the top quartile financially outperformed the bottom quartile by more than 36%. Another McKinsey report, Women in the Workplace, predicted that narrowing the gender gap by 2025 could translate to $12 trillion in additional GDP.
In order to effectively increase diversity in STEM, leaders in their respective fields must work deliberately to build awareness among underrepresented groups; train, mentor and promote employees; and retain diverse talent. In 2022, as pandemic restrictions start to ease globally, we are setting two goals aimed at empowering even more young girls to explore careers in STEM this year.
For one, we are expanding our office footprint in Cork, Ireland in an ongoing effort to bring more tech sector jobs to the region.
We also hope to revisit our international externship program with I Wish, which invites two college students from Ireland to take part in a fully funded internship at Park Place’s Global Headquarters and Global EOC in the US. During this program, interns learn about different career paths in international technology and gain hands-on experience in the process.