Technology needs to attract more women

Yorkshire Water is encouraging girls to choose careers in science and technology
Yorkshire Water is encouraging girls to choose careers in science and technology
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Nearly a third of women working in ​s​cience, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are unhappy in their role and 14 per cent are thinking of leaving their jobs, according to the new ​“Women in STEM: Bridging the Gender Gap” survey.

The report, which is sponsored by Yorkshire Water, Leeds-based Sky Betting & Gaming, ​BT and Coca Cola, found that more needs to be down to attract young women into jobs that are male dominated.

​The report found that there is a skills crisis in STEM​ sectors, ​which is ​costing the UK economy up to £27bn a year.

​Some 43 per cent of STEM vacancies are hard to fill according to the UK Commission for Employment & Skills. It said that w​orkplace diversity within the STEM sector remains a major challenge, with just 13 per cent of roles being filled by women.

The ​report said that ​numbers are not improving despite many diversity initiatives. It claimed that improving workplace diversity is not just a moral issue, there is a strong business case to support it.

The survey found that 29​ per cent​ of women​ ​a​re unhappy ​in their jobs​, with engineering and technology​ the worst hit.

​​Within ​e​ngineering​, 31 per cent said they were unhappy and wanted to change role or sector​ and in t​echnology 30 per cent ​said they ​were unhappy and wanted to change jobs or sectors.​

​In construction​, just 23 per cent said they were unhappy and thinking about leaving the sector or wanting to change their role.

Matt Hughan, head of recruitment at Sky Betting & Gaming, said: “80 per cent of our employees are male. Some areas challenge that, for example, our Legal and Compliance team is over 50 per cent female, but in areas such as software engineering and trading, it is tough to recruit women with the right skills purely because the size of the talent pool is smaller.

“We offer incredibly flexible working, career progression opportunities, help with childcare, robust benefits and strong learning and development opportunities, including our Tech Ninja fund, which allows each employee £1,000 to spend on their development each year. Ultimately, it is a place where women can find their way to the career they want.”

Sky Betting & Gaming is running a number of campaigns to attract women, working alongside the wider business community, education providers and organisations, such as Forward Ladies.

“Going out to schools and colleges means that we can help ignite an interest in technology at an early age,” said Mr Hughan.

“We are also collaborating on proposals for a Digital University Technical College here in Leeds focused on Creative Technologies.”

Rebecca McDonnell, head of talent at Yorkshire Water, said the firm has made good progress in terms of diversity, particularly in improving the gender balance.

“Our management and senior management is now well over 30 per cent female, which is a tipping point in terms of change,” she said.

Yorkshire Water has achieved this by investing in female-led workplace development programmes, including the STEM programme with Forward Ladies, creating a bespoke development programme.

“Many of the women from our first cohort are now undertaking coaching and mentoring with other females within the business and we have seen clear results in terms of the number of women being promoted and then staying in those new roles,” she said.

The firm’s second cohort is now progressing through the programme.

“Our workplace schemes operate at all levels across the business,” said Ms McDonnell.

“We saw a 20 per cent increase in the number of female apprentice engineers who started with us last year, which was fantastic, and we also have senior managers undertaking apprenticeships to learn and develop new skills.

“This year for the first time, we are running bespoke graduate schemes across engineering, project management and operational management that really target the skills needed for success in a STEM career and we have a strong male/female balance. Together, the workplace schemes operating across different levels and areas within the business make Yorkshire Water an attractive place to be and put us in a great position to meet future challenges.”