Surely in this day and age we would think that this shouldn’t be an issue, that we have gender diversity in the workplace, but that isn’t the case. Read on to find out why it’s still an issue and how we can help.
Gender diversity in the UK workplace is a work in progress. Many industries can be male dominated, for example: finance, STEM, water supply, and agriculture to name but a few1. Female dominated industries tend to include health and social work, education, service activities, and admin2.
While most of us agree that in order to have a fair and productive working environment, an equal balance of men and women is required. More commonly than not, this is not the case despite the modern age we live in.
Gender diversity in the workplace means that women and men are hired at a similar and consistent rate, are paid equally, and are given the same opportunities, be that access to resources, promotions, or pay.
Gender diversity is having equal opportunities available to you that aren’t limited by your gender.
The most common reason is thought to be discrimination and socialisation3 with a lot of us brought up to think of certain roles as specific to a gender. For example: firefighters are typically men, and nurses are typically women.
These stereotypes come about from our unconscious biases; our intentional people preferences which frequently start when we’re children with the toys we’re given to play with and how they are marketed to us. A lot of us used to visit toy stores back when we were younger to be met by aisles marketed at girls which were pink and full of tea sets, dolls, or play kitchens, or blue aisles marketed at boys full of trucks, planes and building blocks4. All of this can inspire how we think and the stereotypes that we create. Watch the Redraw the Balance video below to see this in action:
When these gender stereotypes become attached to a job, it affects our perceptions of who is suitable for that role and their perceived authority, all of which can affect recruitment and our expectations of others5.
For example, software developers have a stereotype that they’re not keen on socialising, play video games a lot, and are typically men. This creates a perception that doesn’t encourage others to interact with them, which works against building an inclusive workplace6 and also means that there is likely to be a recruitment bias with women less likely to be hired into this role.
It works the other way round as well; male nurses also experience stereotypes within their roles. Many people traditionally think that nursing is a women’s job and so are surprised when they meet one, as roles in the care sector are typically attributed to women7.
These stereotypes can affect whether someone is likely to go for a role in a particular industry because of the potential perception and biases that go with it, leading to very little changing.
It’s a tendency to prefer, or to give preferential treatment of one gender over another and is a form of unconscious bias.
Frequently, gender bias refers to the often preferential treatment that white heterosexual males receive and is most commonly visible within the workplace8.
Women who choose to have children frequently have their careers disrupted by maternity leave, childcare and part-time working.Despite doing better in education, women are over three times more likely to work part-time, are less likely to progress in work, generally work in lower paying industries and occupations, and have lower pension wealth9.
Take a look at our Sway to find out.
Our 17 year’s experience training and mentoring women in the STEM sector has given us a fantastic first-hand insight into the barriers that are commonly faced in the workplace which prevent women from excelling in their careers. All our programmes are led by mentors who have extensive working experience in the STEM industry, and we have a range of delivery options to suit your needs.
EMPOWER, our award-winning career development programme for women, provides the tools and techniques to enable female talent to advance their careers and progress within their organisations.
For a completely flexible approach for employees whose time is precious and in demand, we recommend Balanced Talent, our flexible career development programme for women.
THRIVE, our positive action career development programme is designed to level the playing field by enabling diverse talent to thrive within their organisation.
Our Inclusion Allies Workshops help to create inclusive, psychologically safe workplaces where everyone can bring their true self to work, as well as raising the opportunity to learn specific tools and techniques to become an effective ally.
Providing support for working parents on their return to work following parental leave is a vital part of ensuring you retain your talent and give them the required support and tools to achieve a healthy balance between the demands of work and an exciting and fulfilling personal life.
Our returners course is entirely flexible and delivered online, meaning a delegate centred approach to the course which fits seamlessly around their daily lives.
Understanding how your organisation is doing with regards to ED&I has never been more important and listening to your employees is the best place to start. Our Moving the Dial report, exclusive to Skills 4, provides your organisation with key insights into your culture, and with benchmarking data available as well, you can see how you fit into your wider industry.