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WISE research shows that the way apprenticeships are advertised and described can immediately turn off female candidates. The research tells us that women are more likely to create and articulate their self-identity using adjectives (while men are more likely to talk about themselves in terms of what they do, using verbs). Traditionally, science careers outreach and case studies focus on what scientists and engineers ‘DO’ using verbs and rarely use adjectives to describe the attributes required. This means that women are less likely to recognize themselves. There is a conflict between their self-identity and their perception of a STEM-identity which leads them to conclude that STEM is ‘not for people like me’.

What works?

Our research shows there a number of ways these barriers can be overcome, particularly during the recruitment process:

  • The language in your job adverts and job descriptions should use adjectives over verbs.
  • Women and girls are more interested in jobs that make a difference to the world - emphasise the contribution that the apprenticeship and your organisations makes to society as a whole.
  • Avoid using competitions – women and girls do not need competitions scenarios to be motivated and are often more inspired by co-operative activities.
  • Applying for jobs and attending assessments in a male dominated environment can be particularly daunting for women and girls. The apprehension of this may be enough to put female applicants off, so emphasise the support available and female contacts at your organisation can help overcome these concerns.
  • Broaden the recruitment channels you use – women and girls may not identify as ‘STEM people’ and therefore will not be actively seeking these opportunities.


Review how you market your apprenticeship scheme and advertising.

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Planning will help to reduce bias in the application and assessment process and increase applications from girls and women.

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Advertising your apprenticeship

Advertising your apprenticeship - guidance on how best to describe your organisation in a way that is more likely to appeal to girls and women.

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Selection and Assessment

Selection and assessment structures to encourage and support women through the application and selection process.

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