Airswift: We must encourage our girls to close the gender gap
Published: 04 Oct 2016 By Grace Kimberley
After establishing the competitive advantages of having a diverse workforce, Energy Jobline asked Janette Marx, Global COO of leading energy staffing agency, Airswift for an insight into why our girls are deterred from entering the engineering industry and what changes are happening in our society to combat the gap.
It’s no secret that the energy industry, particularly within the engineering space, is a highly male dominated sector. Energy Jobline recently conducted a survey that found only 15% of our users are female – An astounding figure, considering engineering is one of the industries particularly suffering from skills shortages globally.
Janette has a wide range of experience with diversity and is, of course, a woman that’s found success working in a male dominated sector. We asked Janette what she believes is deterring females from entering the industry and what is currently being done in our society to combat this.
“It starts in elementary school.” Said Janette.
“This is a systemic problem in our society, globally, where girls in their early school years look at subjects like Science and Maths as unpopular choices. It’s not popular to choose Science, Engineering or anything that is viewed as a male dominated subject or industry at this point”
“Women are so bright. They are!” she laughs. “When women get their degree in engineering and graduate to then go into the engineering field of work, they’re usually 1 of 10 in a group and the other nine are men.”
It’s not just schooling that's the main cause of the gender gap in engineering, although it plays a major part. Women who graduate with an engineering degree are automatically deterred from the industry because they fear they will essentially be a cat in a room full of dogs.
“Girls will always feel different and they will perhaps approach everything differently to everyone else. They have a different vantage point.” Janette continues.
The drop-off occurs quite frequently after university graduation, but this drop off can be prevented if we encourage young girls from the earliest age possible.
“This problem starts at the very beginning with our girls, with our daughters, with our nieces. We, as a society, need to encourage them to stay with the subjects they love and show them the benefits.”
“Then, when they go to university and study it, it’s about how they are welcomed and on-boarded into the real world of engineering. It’s tough in the energy world. When engineers go to work offsite, they’re staying in “man-camps”, they’re staying on rigs that are designed for one gender.”
“Things like this need to change if we want to encourage women to enter the industry.”
There is still a great deal to be done to entice women into entering the energy and engineering industries, but progress has been made. The views towards diversity of gender are improving considerably, with the opportunities for not just women but businesses working in the industry being highlighted much more frequently in recent years.
“I think we’ve got a lot to look up to firstly on the political side.” Said Janette.
“There are more women leading countries now than there ever has been before. That sets a great example.”
“When you look at the fortune 500 companies, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in getting more women into the C Suite. We have pioneers that are trail blazing and leading the way in that.”
It’s not all doom and gloom. This is the opportune time for diversity organisations and women’s boards to get their message across, what with the topic of diversity being such a prominent point of discussion in business today. We now have a platform to voice the opportunities of engineering to individual women and to also show companies why they should want to have more women working for them.
Energy Jobline will be interviewing a number of industry leaders about the topics of diversity and inclusion over the forthcoming months. If you’re interested in listening in to our Diversity & Inclusion webinar on 20th October at 4.00pm, or you would like to feature in the webinar, please get in contact with Grace Kimberley (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Looking for a new role in the energy and/or engineering industries?
Click here to browse Airswift's latest jobs today.