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Research shows that language and wording of your advertisements can make a big difference in attracting women and girls.

Traditionally, job advertisements in STEM focus on what scientists and engineers ‘DO’. Only rarely do they describe the attributes required in a way that resonates with women and girls. This means that women are less likely to recognise themselves, reinforcing the idea that STEM is “not for people like me”.

  • There are some simple changes to your current activity and recruitment materials that can remove barriers and increase applications from women and girls: Think of job titles and how you package the role. Adding words like ‘design’ or ‘customer’ to the role has made a difference. Business administration and customer service roles are popular with women – can you incorporate elements of these into your technical apprenticeships to increase the appeal to women?
  • The words used in STEM apprenticeship advertisements and materialise often appeal more to men and boys who like ‘action’ verbs. Women prefer to see themselves described in a way they identify with. Shape a role around competencies rather than tasks, for example, explaining that the types of people that do well in a particular STEM apprenticeship are ‘friendly, detail-oriented, and curious rather than simply “interested in engineering”.
  • Women and girls are generally more interested in jobs that make a difference to the world - emphasise the contribution that the apprenticeship and your organisation makes to society as a whole. As an example, instead of describing the activities of a lab technician as ‘testing and analysing samples’, explain that the role is to analyse blood samples of patients to help doctors find the best medical treatments.
  • Many women and girls are more comfortable working in teams and typically more inspired by collaborative activities than by competitive environments.
  • Set clear selection criteria linked to the role, taking into account that women often have less practical experience in STEM areas than men.
  • Make sure the interview panel is as diverse as possible - if you can, put people from different backgrounds on the interview panel, including people who have completed an apprenticeship.
  • Ensure the panel understands the goal of achieving a greater number of women and girls into apprenticeships – find out more about support and training to combat unconscious bias.
Plan assessment centres and interviews carefully
  • Try and schedule multiple women on the same day of an interview or assessment centre as a way of encouraging them that “they aren’t the only one” interested in and considered for a role.
  • If you are running a residential assessment centre, understand that parents may have concerns about young women being away from home in a male-dominated environment. Make sure your centre is proactive in supporting women and girls and this should help. Good things to do are setting up Women-only areas and female points of contact for candidates.
  • Consider the timing of interviews and assessment days – inviting people to interview a long distance from where they live is always difficult, but it can be much more difficult for women who have caring responsibilities. Try and be as local as possible and avoid the prime school pick up and drop off times to make it easier for women to attend.

Recruitment doesn’t end when an offer has been made – an engagement plan between offer and start date can help to prevent drop off by women and girls. Siemens DF PD have a dedicated contact plan for their apprentices between offer and start and bring them into the company for two weeks before their official start to meet their teams, get used to the environment and absorb the company ethos.

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