Unwelcoming recruiting practices could be keeping women away from STEM fields
- Company representatives are creating a "chilly environment" for female STEM job candidates, according to a report from two Stanford University researchers. The report, "Puncturing the pipeline: Do technology companies alienate women in recruiting sessions?," examines the recruitment processes most companies follow when they meet with students on campus.
- Researchers looked at 84 recruiting information sessions and noted themes that could be keeping women at bay. First was the role of the presenters; while men were the experts, women were marginalized or silent. Of the sessions they observed, 84% had primarily male presenters, 24% had no women presenters and 58% had women in marginalized roles. Only 22% had female engineers presenting “core technical content."
- A second theme identified was gender stereotyping. Images and slides in presentations supported male dominance in the field, while women were either objectified, represented as weaker or absent. Studies show 40% of males with a STEM degree work in STEM jobs, but the same measure sits at only 26% for women.
As companies push to diversify their workforce, particularly in tech, underrepresentation of women continues to be an issue. Silicon Valley, for example, has been struggling to change its image and representation from a male-dominated industry with minor success.
Although growth in STEM careers is expected to outpace non-STEM (8.9% vs. 6.4%) in the next eight years, women and girls are not choosing educational paths to fill the vacancies. Experts suggest industries work to “rebrand” careers in the sciences to attract 50% of the future workforce, but perception of gender inequality in the fields persists. And for women who pursue STEM careers, one study reveals they are 50% more likely to face discrimination at work than women in non-STEM jobs.
As the skills gap continues to pressure businesses to diversify, many NGOs are working with schools and sponsoring career days in STEM focused on women. Mentoring programs and sponsorships could also help women test the waters in STEM careers, but employers may also need to make significant changes in the recruitment process.