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7 Factors For Recruiting Women in STEM

Forbes is All-In for Women in STEM


ForbesWomen Contributing Author Joan Michelson recaps 7 key offers to have in order to recruit women in STEM

According to a 2017 report by the Department of Commerce, Economics, and Statistics Administration, “women filled 47% of all US jobs in 2015 but held only 24% of STEM jobs.” How do you tackle this gap in employment numbers? By identifying what factors will help draw females to work and engage in the STEM sector.

Courtesy of a series of studies and one-on-one interviews with women in STEM conducted by the business program at George Mason University, we now have input on what those factors could be.

For reference, the women interviewed are mid-career women, “most having at least 10+ years of experience, serious about their careers, and work in a STEM industry. The specific jobs they hold run the gamut from management to policy, to marketing to data analytics, HR, technology, and finance.” The priorities that this sample established include 7 factors:

1. Promotions
Approximately 40% of women responders cited believing they were passed over for a promotion in favor of someone that was underqualified and of the opposite gender. A common refrain in the survey was women wondering if they had to leave their current employer to be promoted, due to the lack of ample opportunities for higher-level jobs.

2. Securing work aligned with their interests and values
Across STEM fields, women tend to be singularly focused on work, whether it’s a concept or program or idea, that aligns with why they chose to pursue a STEM career in the first place. Many of the respondents detailed a desire to be doing work that specifically aligns with their interests and values as well as their developed expertise.

3. Finding the Right Work-Life Dynamics
Women are still broadly generalized as the homemakers of the family, and society forces the burden of raising a family onto women. The George Mason University study found that women understand they’re not seeking a work-life balance, but instead are ‘juggling’ the opportunity to find time to dedicate to their careers in addition to time for their kids, friends, and personal interests.

4. Earned Worth
Women are also often stereotyped as being willing to settle for low salaries – today, women earn on average 80 cents for every dollar a man working the same hours (full-time) earns. 50% of survey respondents said they were willing to accept a lower salary if the deal also provided ample time with families or the ability to do work they love, but every respondent wanted to earn more than they currently are. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they plan to negotiate for a higher salary or additional compensation the next time.

5. Improving Personal Branding
The women surveyed understood the value of a strong personal brand when it comes to landing the next promotion or a great new job that is a step up from their current one. In order to help employees build their personal brand, respondents hoped to see employers offer to help increase their visibility via opportunities such as speaking engagements and being published or quoted in the press.

6. Driving Innovation
25% of women voiced a desire to be able to drive innovation by doing cutting-edge work. Learning new things, driving change, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible were high on respondents’ list of goals for themselves as well as their employers.

7. Changing Corporate Culture
As mentioned earlier, the respondents were all mid-career women. Every single individual surveyed said that changing the corporate culture is one of their top-three challenges. Because culture comes from the top down in an organization, it’s difficult to change. Small changes can be made starting at the top, building on one conversation, one goal, one policy, and one event or announcement at a time.

How can you take these 7 Factors into account?
If you’re an employer looking to recruit and candidates are placing a premium on corporate culture, it’s important to recognize that factors 1-6 all also fall under the umbrella of ‘corporate culture.’ To retain that talent who prioritizes culture, it’s time to “look under the hood of your own organization and find out what your culture really is, not just what you think it is and want it to be.”

These 7 factors were originally published on in an article by Joan Michelson. To read the full article, click here.

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