Diverse international and interracial group of standing women, women empowering women

International Women's Day: Progress toward parity in STEM

Diverse international and interracial group of standing women, women empowering women

Article provided by Nicola Buckley, EVP, Global Service Delivery, Park Place Technologies

In the spirit of March, with International Women’s Day coming up on the 8th March, we want to take a moment to celebrate the strides made by women to increase gender diversity in STEM.

In recent years, there has been an amplification of important dialogue around Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) initiatives calling on companies to do their part when it comes to equitable hiring practices, retention and increasing access to STEM resources among underrepresented communities.

A 2018 Women’s Engineering Society UK report showed great gender disparity in the engineering and tech fields.

OF ALL ENGINEERS ARE WOMEN IN THE UK

WOMEN WORK IN THE ENGINEERING SECTOR (INCL. ENGINEERS)

OF STUDENTS STARTING A-LEVEL PHYSICS IN 2018 WERE FEMALE

Park Place Technologies, in partnership with I Wish, a community committed to showcasing the power of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths to teenage girls, has been working for several years to introduce young girls to careers in STEM by providing access to both education and technology. We participated in the TechForGood campaign, facilitated by I Wish, which aimed to facilitate zero-waste laptop recycling by donating refurbished laptops to female students in Ireland who have limited or no access to technology. Last month, we also helped promote I Wish’s fourth Women in STEM event dedicated to introducing young girls to opportunities in these fields. Through our global network of 21,500 customers and our channel partners, we helped reach more than 15,000 viewers in 19 countries around the world.

There is no quick fix to the lack of diversity in STEM; it requires industry-wide commitment to solving the challenge together. Political, economic and social events have also impacted hiring and retention, namely the pandemic and “The Great Resignation.”

RETAINING TALENT AND THE GREAT RESIGNATION

One in three women globally considered quitting their job last year, according to the National Women’s Law Center in the US. Since February 2020, the workforce participation rate for women hit its lowest point in 30+ years. In promoting diversity, retaining talent is just as important as recruiting new employees, and a great method of doing so is through training, mentoring and promoting within your organisation.

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EQUITABLE HIRING STRATEGIES

High resignation rates call for innovative hiring strategies. Now more than ever, companies are competing for a very limited pool of technical talent. New job opportunities in STEM are popping up faster than candidates are able to fill them, and this trend is not expected to slow down. Increasing representation in STEM among any minority group requires proactive, deliberate action. According to Indeed, job postings on the site in diversity, inclusion and belonging (DI&B) rose 123% between May and September 2020.

There is specific data that shows an earnings gap in Europe. The European Union “Women’s Situation in the Labour Market” survey reports that “The gender pay gap in the EU stands at 14.1% and has only changed minimally over the last decade. It means that women earn 14.1% on average less per hour than men.”

The real end goal should be to establish a community among all STEM industries where our experts are representative of the people that we serve. Greater diversity has been linked to business outperformance as well. A global McKinsey study showed that the top quartile of organizations based on gender diversity exceeded the bottom quartile’s financial performance by 25%. When ranked based on ethnic diversity, companies in the top quartile financially outperformed the bottom quartile by more than 36%. Another McKinsey report, Women in the Workplace, predicted that narrowing the gender gap by 2025 could translate to $12 trillion in additional GDP.

In order to effectively increase diversity in STEM, leaders in their respective fields must work deliberately to build awareness among underrepresented groups; train, mentor and promote employees; and retain diverse talent. In 2022, as pandemic restrictions start to ease globally, we are setting two goals aimed at empowering even more young girls to explore careers in STEM this year.

For one, we are expanding our office footprint in Cork, Ireland in an ongoing effort to bring more tech sector jobs to the region.

We also hope to revisit our international externship program with I Wish, which invites two college students from Ireland to take part in a fully funded internship at Park Place’s Global Headquarters and Global EOC in the US. During this program, interns learn about different career paths in international technology and gain hands-on experience in the process.


Women in STEM

Bridging the gender gap: Tackling the shortage of women in STEM

women-in-STEM-featured

Article provided by Jennifer Deutsch, CMO, Park Place Technologies

As it stands, just 24 per cent of roles within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers are held by women. According to a report by Engineering UK, the UK has the lowest number of female engineers of any country in Europe.

This lack of representation of women in STEM is a longstanding issue. The number of women in technology make up just 17 per cent of all those in the UK tech industry and according to the National Centre for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women hold only 25 per cent of computing roles within UK companies.

What can businesses do to support women in STEM?

Enabling women to flourish in the UK workforce is worth a lot financially. According to research undertaken by the McKinsey Global Institute, gender parity in the workplace could add up to $28 trillion (26 per cent) to the annual GDP BY 2025.

There has been a huge increase in initiatives to tackle the gap and positively affect the number of women choosing a career in STEM, especially within the last five years. Whilst these initiatives are undeniably having a positive effect, especially in awareness, they haven’t yet had the required impact to readdress the diversity balance.

Education is key

Encouraging girls into STEM at an early age, at home and at school, is key to addressing the gender stereotypes that still exist. Currently, only seven per cent of students in the UK taking computer science at A-Level are female, and just half of all those studying IT and Technology subjects at school will go into a job of the same field, according to Women in Technology.

Positive female role models are vital, so companies and organisations should ask their successful female employees to visit local schools to meet with students and share their experiences. By sharing their personal experiences and successes, these female employees can inspire and encourage the students to follow their lead

Businesses can also offer work experience placements or internship programmes, specifically targeted at young girls who are interested in STEM, but who are perhaps unsure about exactly what a career in this field entails.  Park Place Technologies recently sponsored an initiative in Ireland aimed at female college students studying STEM related subjects, who wanted to gain experience in the industry. The two selected candidates have been given the opportunity to fly to our US headquarters for a 10-day internship programme, where they will receive hands-on industry experience as well as the opportunity to network with the senior executive team and go through a leadership training program  Internship programmes are invaluable both for an organisation and students.  For the students it gives them first-hand experience of the type of work involved with that industry, and for the organisation, it can be used as a recruitment process to identify future talent who could one day join the business once they have completed their studies.

Prior to this a Park Place STEM committee was established in Q4 2018, consisting of a diverse group of women at Park Place, many of whom had no formal training in STEM.

More women on the Board

Organisations need to honestly ask themselves how many women hold leadership positions within the company or will have the opportunity to do so in the future? If the answer to this is very few, then you risk losing the already limited number of talented women in your organisation to a more inclusive competitor.  Here at Park Place, there are several high-ranking women who contribute to the leadership of the company.

Benefits to suit women

Employers also need to showcase that they operate a female-friendly environment, and provide reassurance that they adhere to a strong equal opportunities policy that clearly lays out how they are supporting work-life balance and equal pay

  • Flexible hours - Maintaining a work-life balance can be tricky. Women often juggle family responsibilities whilst looking to progress within their career. Many women in male-dominated industries find themselves taking a voluntary pay cut, to have time to spend at home. A working environment that is flexible to the needs of working parents will appeal to more women and encourage them to stay and progress in their career rather than to choose between work or family.
  • Higher salaries - In the same way women feel they must reduce their hours to spend time at home, they also take considerable pay cuts in to maintain a balanced life. Women in Technology found that an alarming 25 per cent of women in STEM want to negotiate a higher salary for their role, but feel they are stereotyped as willing to settle for less money than a man in their same position. Ensuring women can work flexible hours without being forced to take a pay cut is the key to businesses gaining and retaining a key part of the workforce.
  • Opportunities for promotion - Empowering women by offering promotion when it is warranted helps businesses to stand out as drivers toward STEM equality. Many women in the industry feel as though they need to change employers to progress in their careers, whilst research found that 40 per cent of women in the industry have experienced being rejected for promotions that have been given to a less-qualified male.

There is undoubtedly an appetite and acute awareness within the industry about the need to encourage more women into STEM.  The media attention and various initiatives to support STEM diversity are helping to improve the situation, but this won’t happen without widespread industry engagement.  There is clearly more work to do in changing outdated perceptions and unconscious bias and this is where employers can make a real difference -- by showcasing the opportunities available to women in STEM and ensuring access to the same opportunities for all. Employers have an obligation to immerse themselves in these initiatives, and where appropriate drive them to ensure that we are creating a STEM industry that is innovative, creative, progressive and diverse for future generations.

Jennifer DeutschAbout the author

As Chief Marketing Officer, Jennifer leads Park Place’s marketing and communication teams with a focus on growing the Park Place Technologies brand as the global leader in data center third-party maintenance and support.

Jennifer brings over three decades of marketing and brand development experience. She has spent time on both the client and agency side. Prior to Park Place Jennifer was the Founder, COO of Antidote 360 and EVP, General Manager at Doner Advertising. Her client side experience includes past positions at Marriott International where she served as SVP, Global Brand Management where she repositioned and optimized the Marriott brand portfolio. Jennifer began her career at Nestle USA as a Management Trainee and held several positions during her tenure at Nestle including Brand Manager, Lean Cuisine and Director of New Ventures for the Nestle Ice Cream Division.

In her spare time, Jennifer is an avid cyclist and gardener. She is an active community member and on several boards including The Cleveland Film Commission, The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and The Cognitive Health Institute. Most recently Jennifer co-founded and serves as Chairman of the Board of FutureVision, a not for profit organization founded in memory of her father, promoting medical innovation and the visual arts.

Jennifer is a graduate of Columbia University in New York City and the proud mother of two sons.


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