Girl Power – why we need to persevere and collaborate?

“For women, perseverance and collaboration are key.  I’ve got a passion for science, I know what an amazing career it can be and I wish that more girls and women actually had that opportunity just to even see it”

This was how my conversation with Kirsty Clode, Chair of Women in Manufacturing and Engineering (WiME). started.  She is infectious with solving big challenges, researching big problems and thinking differently.  Girl power makes her tick!

Girl power

So how do we get more women applying and working in Science and Engineering? She has first-hand experience of finding her way in this industry and knows what it needs to be successful. She got practical and did some research!  Here is what she shared on our Focus on What Matters podcast series.

Kirsty’s tips for organisations (HR), are:

  1. Run special events that bring women together who do these jobs.  It makes a difference. If a woman stands in front of a man he says, “This is the job I do.” She might believe him. If a woman stands in front of a woman and says, “This is the job I do, you could do it.” She will definately believe her.  Girls/women will step forward more if the boys/men aren’t there.
  2. In social media and marketing materials, take pictures of women IN the more technical jobs.  This increases  awareness.   Women need to see other women doing the work.
  3. Personalise recruitment where possible.  It makes a huge difference to women to talk to someone. A non-verbal (impersonal?) recruitment  process doesn’t always help. Women typically believe they’ve got to tick every box on the application to ensure they can do every single one of the things they’re asking for. The reality is “we’d like you to have A, B, and C, but if you’ve only got B and C, we’d still like you to give it a go.”
  4. Let your daughter attend one of your conference calls, Let them hear real problems being solved. De-mystify the work we do.
  5. Returners, who have gaps in their CV, need a different type of recruitment process. Change your adverts from “recent experience needed in…..” to “practical history of working in…..”.

Kirsty’s tips for the education sector are:

  1. Teach girls to be brave. – encourage toughness in education – toughness is often weighted in favour of boys.
  2. Connect learning Physics or Maths at school to what job that could launch you in to.
  3. Bring local employers into schools or show girls videos where women talk about their route into these more scientific jobs.
  4. Understand what industry wants and encourage local industry into schools to explain what they need.
  5. Encourage girls to take part in things like science clubs. E.g. Green Power Education Trust,

Girls - education

Girls, in particular, form their stereotypes of what they can and can’t do when they’re at primary school, therefore they lose interest in science when they’re 10 or 11 years old because they cannot see themselves being a scientist.

Kirsty’s tips if you are returning to work after a break are:

  1. Join a community like STEM Returners run by Natalie Desty who are doing work with companies that want diversify and who will offer trials of roles to build confidence.
  2. Seek out companies who have strong development programmes
  3. Join WiMe or attend one of their events.
  4. Use your network creatively and proactively
  5. Seek out the relevant linked in connections in the Science and Engineering community.

So, when it comes down to it…..we must persevere and collaborate.

“Don’t be discouraged… is often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock”

For more information on Kirsty’s perseverance and collaboration tips listen to our Focus on What Matters Podcast.

Kirsty Clode, is Chair of the Women in Manufacturing and Engineering (WiME).   She spent 27 years working for a leading petrochemicals company in high hazard installations all over the UK, US, globally.

Chameleon Works supports women returning to work.  Contact us if you would like more information.

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash