Shortlisting and interviewing women

The shortage of qualified STEM professionals is one symptom of the fact that well- trained women are not progressing in their careers at the same rate as their male colleagues. Indeed, evidence shows that female graduates are more likely to take lower quality jobs than men. That discrepancy persists throughout women’s careers, not least because traditional recruitment techniques can deter women and fail to reveal their talents.

To achieve a more diverse workforce in STEM, your appointment processes may need to change to accommodate the differing needs of women applicants. To support the recruitment and retention of women, you could:

Ensure that the selection committee is diverse
Scrutinise your shortlisting process
Use consistent language
Select according to explicit criteria
Think about the long term

Ensure that your selection committee is diverse
Diverse hiring panels reduce implicit bias and increase the chance that all candidates will be assessed fairly. Man...



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Interpreting letters of reference

Letters of recommendation (or ‘references’) for job candidates can differ depending on whether the candidate is a man or a woman. For candidates of equal merit, letters of recommendation written for women are likely to be, for example, shorter, to emphasise supportive attributes rather than leadership qualities, and to contain few superlatives. These differences may reflect an unconscious bias among writers of such letters, who are usually senior men. By bearing in mind the possibility that men and women candidates could be described differently, members of selection panels may be able to moderate these differences and so minimise the effect of the bias.

To improve employment prospects for women, you could:

Recognise that references are difficult to write
Be alert to stereotypes
Recognise the scope of the reference
Interpret ‘faint praise’
Allow for the potential for leadership
Understand candidates’ own unconscious bias

Recognise that references are difficult...



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Fractional and flexible working policies

Flexible and fractional (part-time) working are two key tools for employers who want to recruit and retain women, and support women wanting to return to the workforce after a career break. People are attracted to fractional and flexible working arrangements for many reasons, not least of which is balancing work with caring responsibilities, which still rest predominantly on women’s shoulders.

Companies that offer and support a variety of working patterns can benefit from a pool of highly qualified but under-utilised women. Fractional and flexible working can also promote a positive working culture and increase productivity, and support staff who want to enhance their qualifications. Considered implementation can also help to reduce the gender pay gap.

Understand employees’ rights and needs
Encourage positive attitudes to flexible and fractional working
Keep flexible and fractional colleagues involved
Establish a positive culture of flexible and fractional working

A ...



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Attracting and retaining female employees

Recruiting more women is key to addressing the shortage of qualified STEM professionals, and a strong commitment to recognising what women want from a job, and fulfilling those needs, will help you increase the number of women in your workp...

Pre-register your school group for ALD Live 2019

Yasmin Ali

If you’re a teacher or parent looking for a way to inspire girls to focus on science GCSEs and A-Levels, then now is the time to pre-register for free tickets to Ada Lovelace Day Live! 2019, our annual science show on the evening of Tuesday 8 October 2019, at The IET in London.

Ada Lovelace Day Live! is a ‘science cabaret’ featuring seven women in science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM), each talking about their research or work for ten minutes. The event is suitable for students aged 12 and older, and is a fantastic way to show them that not only are STEM careers fascinating and fulfilling, but also that women can be very successful. You can watch all the talks from previous years on our YouTube channel.

If you are interested in booking free tickets for a group, please take a moment to complete this very short form. The tickets themselves will be made available towards the end of the summer, once we have this year’s speaker line-up confirmed, but we’d like to give schools the opportunity to skip to the head of the queue!