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Increasing Propects for female engineers

Working collaboratively with Prospect.

IET President Naomi Climer Working collaboratively with Prospect, the trade union representing professionals in the UK, the IET has formed a new joint working group to establish best practice guidance on the recruitment and retention of female engineers and scientists. This working group was developed out of the joint IET and Prospect conference on progressing Women in STEM roles.

Held in March, it was attended by a wide range of stakeholders including Baroness Margaret Prosser, Meg Munn MP and Peter Cheese, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Supported by the IET’s President, Professor William Webb, the IET’s President-elect Naomi Climer and Prospect’s Vice-President Denise McGuire, the working group will have industry and academic representation from major employers who attended the conference including the Met Office and BAE Systems. “We have talked about the lack of women in engineering and science for many years now. More female-friendly retention and recruitment practices are an important part of the challenge,” says Naomi.

Practical guidance

“By bringing together a working group, which for the first time has representatives from Government, trade unions, industry, academia and professional bodies, we want to get to the crux of the issue and come up with some hard hitting and practical guidance that can help more companies address this significant problem."

Shifting unconscious bias

The working group will consider a number of influencing factors including unconscious bias, good practice in retention, plans to look at how organisations and individuals can shift subconscious social attitudes, stereotypes as well as ingrained recruitment and promotion attitudes that may exist and negatively impact a more diverse workforce. It also aims to help organisations recognise that creating a level playing field for women benefits everyone and promotes a sustainable and inclusive culture within that organisation where staff retention is evident. “Championing women’s achievements is important, but it’s also about making sure our world economies, which increasingly depend on engineering, manufacturing and technology, are not hampered by the fact we are missing out on the talent and contributions of 50 percent of the potential workforce,” Naomi adds. The working group aims to publish best practice guidance for wider circulation by the end of 2015.