Over the past decades, women have steadily been making their way into the global workforce but still, they are faced with multiple challenges. Even though it’s generally accepted that women in the workplace bring considerable benefits to the organization, there are some industries that are traditionally male-dominated and difficult for women to infiltrate.
Studies suggest that increasing the number of women at work may boost financial performance. However, there are numerous industries where the gender gap is obvious and the male workforce is blatantly dominant. By definition, occupations considered as male-dominated are those where women represent only up to 25 percent of the workforce. Sadly, research highlights that closing the global gender gap may take up to 135 years.
In this article, we take a look at how to recruit and retain women in male-dominated industries.
Some traditionally male-dominated industries:
- Only about 4 percent of firefighters are women.
- Women represent only 7.8 percent of aerospace engineering jobs.
- Globally, only 8 percent of software developers are women.
- Less than 10 percent of leadership positions in agriculture are filled by women.
- Women make up just 10.9 percent of the construction industry.
- Women represent only 23.3 percent of facility managers in the U.S.
- 5.2 percent of US aircraft pilots and flight engineers are female.
How to Attract Talented Women in Male-dominated Industries
1. Get everyone involved
If you want to attract talented women to join your organization, the first step is to be clear about your intentions. Make it a point to highlight your goal of recruiting talented females as part of your workforce. All of your staff members should understand that this is an important objective for your organization.
Note that there may be some employees who do not show any enthusiasm. It is your role to educate your workforce and ensure they share the same vision. Finally, encourage your staff members to proudly spread the word that your organization promotes gender equality.
2. Women-friendly job ads
Did you know that the words you choose can make or break your job ads? A study of 70,000 job ads reveals that the use of ‘coded’ language has been around for a long time now. For instance, the word ‘commit’ is among the most frequently coded feminine words.
It is essential that your job advertisement resonates with your target audience. Put forward the different perks that may look appealing to women. If you are feeling unsure, do not hesitate to ask your current female employees about their opinion. These women have first-hand experience of what it’s like to work for your organization.
3. Target a female audience
To ensure maximum visibility from the female gender, place your ads in places where women hang out. For instance, you could reach out to women’s organizations or job boards exclusive to women. Job fairs or even social media groups having female followers can also work out well.
While this may require some homework, it nonetheless ensures your job ads will be seen by a female audience. Note that this process is not to discourage or exclude men from applying. Instead, advertising in places where women spend their time is a way to get more applications from the female gender.
Also, you can try using virtual interviewing. This will allow you to interview candidates in real-time no matter where they are. In that way, you broaden your candidate pool and engage with more potential female candidates for the job.
4. Create a female-friendly benefits program
Not all benefits are created equal. Some appeal to men, some appeal to women and some don’t even appeal to anyone. Yet, benefits are an important part of a job package. Get your benefits package wrong, and 49 percent of your talents may look elsewhere within their first 12 months.
Since you are looking to appeal to female talents, go for benefits that matter to them. Is your maternity leave policy up-to-date and do you cover prenatal care? Is your organization able to accommodate staff that needs flexible working hours? The list can be very long. But at the end of the day, your benefits and perks must demonstrate that you support women.
How to Retain Talented Women
1. Provide leadership opportunities
Attracting qualified women to work for your organization is only one part of the puzzle. Retaining your talented female workforce should also be taken seriously. Keep in mind that there are other organizations, sometimes (much) bigger than yours, competing to land the best female talent.
As mentioned above, educating your staff and showing you believe in gender equality is an absolute must. If there are vacant leadership roles, promote your current deserving female staff to positions of power. Furthermore, encourage mentoring from women, especially from women in leadership roles. This shows you believe in women’s ability to make key decisions.
2. Take sexual harassment seriously
First off, it is vital that your organization has a sexual harassment policy in place. The policy should clearly define sexual harassment and how to report it. Sadly, 69 percent of women report having been sexually harassed in a professional setting.
Adopting a zero-tolerance approach towards sexual harassment and gender discrimination is a no-brainer. Not only does it show you care, but it also makes your staff feel safer. Ultimately, you want to create a positive working environment for women (and men) alike.
3. Equitable salary and benefits
A 2021 study on the gender pay gap reveals that for every dollar earned by men, women earn only 82 cents. Women in the workplace are very aware of the gender pay gap. One way of losing your talented female employees is by underpaying them.
Retaining your top talent starts by fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion. Your organization should ooze equality, be it in terms of benefits or salary. Compensating and promoting all your employees fairly is the minimum you can do to show you care.
4. Encourage support groups
An employee resource group (ERG) for women is a great way for your female staff to blow off some steam. By definition, an ERG is a group of employees from an underrepresented segment of your workforce. ERGs are led by employees but are approved by the employer.
This allows your female talents to share their thoughts, ideas, and possible concerns they may be facing. Again, this encourages inclusion and diversity, while allowing your female workforce to connect with one another. It’s worth noting that this is widely practiced and that 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have an ERG.
Attracting and retaining top female talent is not an easy task. Many organizations are competing to recruit the most talented women on the market. A study reports that women in the workplace enhance job satisfaction and even reduce job-related burnout. As time goes by, more and more barriers will go down, and more women will join male-dominated industries. Focusing on gender equality and taking concrete action is the way forward.
About the Author
Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.