Recent studies reveal that there is still a considerable way to go to eliminating gender bias from the recruitment process, especially in the engineering sector. According to the latest figures from the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), only 11% of the UK’s engineering workforce is female. Both women and men who study Engineering and Technology express similar levels of intent to work in the industry, however, 66.2% of men and 47.4% of women went on to work in engineering and technology in 2011.
With new initiatives in place to encourage more women into STEM professions, what can be done to reduce unconscious bias?
Set specific diversity goals
Setting some realistic gender diversity targets is a good place to start and can ensure you stay on the right track throughout the entire recruitment process. By no means should you employ an individual to simply tick a box, but having goals to work towards can help to identify any problem areas that you may need to improve.
Write gender-neutral job descriptions
Certain phrases that are written in job adverts can deter high-quality candidates from applying for the position. For example, it is believed that on average men apply for a job when they meet 60% of the required skills whereas women only apply when they believe that they meet 100% of the required skills.
A study conducted by totaljobs found an astonishing 478,175 female and male-biased words used throughout the job ads, or on average, that is six gender-coded words per advert. Male-biased words include lead, head, competitive, chief and confident whereas female-biased words include responsible, support, dependable, understanding and committed.
The strategy of de-gendering the language used in job adverts to ensure they appeal to all candidates is a good way to ensure you eliminate gender bias.
De-identifying CVs will help to eliminate any unconscious bias in decision-making that may be susceptible to details about gender. If you evaluate each CV in exactly the same way it ensures that you are scoring the person’s CV objectively and not subjectively. However, realistically this is not always possible and so alternative steps can be taken throughout the interview process. Read on to find out more.
Be aware of unconscious bias in the interview process
Adding structure to an interview by having a series of standardised questions that you ask in every interview makes it easier for the interviewer to compare each candidate applying for the job. These questions can include some ice-breakers and easier questions, however, having guidelines to record and interpret responses during an interview is imperative.
It’s also a good idea to identify the preferred answer to each question you are asking before you conduct the first interview.
Use a diverse interview panel
Depending on the type of interview process, you may be able to elect a gender diverse interview panel which can reduce the risk of unconscious gender bias. If possible, it is a good idea to extend this strategy to have a fair mix of cultural diversity and age range when conducting a series of interviews.
Ensuring your recruitment process is fair and unbiased against all genders has a positive effect on the entire business. For example, a recent study conducted by UC Davis revealed that out of the 400 companies who took part, those who have a high percentage of female executives have a 74% higher return on assets and equity. Overall, companies are 15% more likely to perform better if they are gender diverse.