Self awareness

Women and Career Equality- are we nearly there yet?

Following the launch of the film ‘Suffragettes’ I felt that a post on the distance travelled since the early pioneers of Feminism was timely. Despite the courageous attempts of women over many years to change the establishment and to penetrate those areas of life where women have been either absent or severely under-represented, what progress has been made to date?

First- the doom and gloom:Barricade at the end of a sidewalk.

  • The Association of Graduate Recruiters reported in September this year that of those jobs advertised by graduate recruiters, only 42% of women had been appointed- despite 60% of graduates being female. This figure has remained much the same over the last five years. This is due to fewer female applicants rather than bias in the recruitment and selection process. Women are under-represented in technology and banking in particular. These sectors have some way to go, in order to address the current gender imbalance and attract more female applicants by addressing women’s reluctance to apply.
  • In the national survey of graduates  undertaken by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, male graduates reported earning more than their female counterparts, with mean salaries of £22,500 and £20,500 respectively. Male first degree leavers were also more likely to be earning more than £25,000.
  • Figures are even worse within universities. A report in the Times Higher Education Supplement  ran an article on the gender differences within HE and reported that only 1 in 10 Professors in UK Universities in 2013 were women. It is to be hoped that the Freedom of Information Act will continue to facilitate the publication of salary data that can be used to expose and challenge the inequalities within both academia and the workplace which perpetuate more generally.
  • Currently there are only 191 female MPs, out of a total 650 members of parliament Female MPs

Now for the good news:

  • More women than ever before are going to University. Women represent 60% of those graduating from UK Universities. (Source: Association of Graduate Recruiters)

    GOOD NEWS - poster concept

  • This year saw the launch of the new Women’s Equality Party
  • A number of larger graduate recruiters are actively offering support to graduate entrants through their in-house female leadership programmes in a bid to compete for top talent
  • Several top graduate recruiters have been keen to sponsor ‘Sprint’ -the female undergraduate personal and professional development programme run in some Universities, in order to support and attract female talent. Log in for details of Warwick’s forthcoming Sprint programme.
  • The economy continues to improve whilst at the same time a population dip in available 18 year olds will lead to more opportunities that recruiters will need to fill, inevitably and encouragingly leading to the appointment of more women.
  • Recruiters who are struggling to attract talent will have to address those barriers (perceived or actual) currently putting off female applicants- or risk facing a talent shortage.
  • More than 70% of graduate recruiters who come to Warwick do not mind what degree discipline a graduate is studying – so unless a role is highly technical or scientific, that’s good news for Arts and Social Science applicants.
  • At the top end, the Government’s target of 25% female board members into top 100 FTSE companies is close to being achieved; the figure currently stands at 23.5%. Nowhere near where it should be, but this has doubled in the last four years.
  • Senior female staff in some of the larger firms we’ve spoken to recently report that from their perspective, things are definitely changing for the better, with more women being appointed and progressing internally, especially since the introduction of Unconscious Bias workplace training to the recruitment and selection process.
  • The Times list of the Top 50 Recruiters for Women illustrates some good examples of different ways women are both attracted to and retained within these organisations.

So what can you do to ensure you are able to thrive as a woman in the graduate workplace?

Here are some hints and tips to help you take your place in a world which needs more capable women in more senior roles, helping to drive these changes and ensure we can continue to address workplace inequality.

All Or Nothing Keys Meaning Entire Or Zero

  1. Know that the graduate workplace desperately needs and will benefit hugely from women’s contributions in all areas.
  2. As a female Warwick student you are highly sought after by graduate recruiters and are intellectually extremely capable. The ‘Sprint’ programme is designed to develop your personal power and confidence to enable you to believe and celebrate this and to have the courage to set your personal bar high in order to achieve your personal career goals.
  3. Don’t make assumptions- either about a firm or the kinds of work they offer until you have researched them. Some students can self- limit by assuming that ‘a company like that won’t be interested in a student from an Arts/ Social Sciences degree. Remember -most firms do not mind what your degree is in. Look beyond the label-many firms recruit across a wide range of roles, so for example, a IT company also recruits into other functions beyond the obvious ones such as Sales, Finance, PR and HR.
  4. Graduates from STEM subjects are highly employable- it’s a buyer’s market right now- especially within Engineering and Technology. However graduates from other disciplines may also want to consider roles within these organisations as they continue to flourish and many will actively welcome applications from you.
  5. Talk to recruiters face-to-face- ask them at Careers Fairs and other events on campus what they are doing to attract and support women’s development in the workplace. Find out first-hand from graduates working within organisations what the working culture is like.
  6. Use resources such as Glassdoor for peer reviews of those who work for or who have had work experience within an organisation for an insider’s perspective.
  7. Engage the support of a mentor. Many former Warwick Graduates are happy to offer a current student mentoring support. Often these may be women (or men) who work in a sector or firm that is of interest you. They may have studied the same degree. Mentors can be a great source of wisdom and support. You can identify potential mentors through the Warwick Alumni network. Warwick Alumni Network

Finally- some advice from Gillian McGrattan, Warwick’s Director of HR who, who started her career in Medicine but changed her mind and moved into Investment Banking before ‘accidentally’ ending up in HR:

“Take the opportunities that come along-including those you may not be qualified to do. Focus on what really motivates you. Be flexible and opportunistic.”

See also our Blog post on how to avid sexism.

A future post will provide tips from successful senior women managers on how to avoid self-sabotage be and successful in getting in to, and progressing in your career.

Anne Wilson

Head of Careers

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