1) What is your role at UWE Bristol and what projects have you been working on?
I am a Research Fellow in the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre with a background in applied social research. For over 20 years I have been involved in a wide range of research projects with colleagues in both marketing and HRM in the Bristol Business School. My expertise includes gender and inequality in organisations; the gender pay gap; women working in male-dominated industries, leadership and inclusion, social marketing and the understanding of psychological pathways for behaviour change in health. I am one of the founder members of alta, a mentoring scheme for professional women in aviation and aerospace. I also teach research methods and supervise student research projects at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
2) Why is supporting women in male-dominated industries important to you?
Europe has an increasingly ageing workforce and an ongoing reduction in the working age population. Alongside this is a skills shortage in some economically critical industries, especially engineering which could be addressed through the recruitment and retention of more women. For example, in the UK, women comprise just over 12% of engineers, compared with other EU countries, such as Latvia (30%) and Sweden (26%). Over the last few years my research has focused on the male-dominated aviation and aerospace industry in the UK where women make up just under 10% of engineers and 4% of pilots. One issue women face in this industry, and male-dominated industries in general, is a lack of support and progression, which can result in women leaving the industry, or not joining in the first place after four years at university, contributing to the phenomenon described as the ‘leaky pipeline’.
3) What is your top tip for women who want a career in a male-dominated industry?
Get yourself a mentor! Some organisations offer mentorship for graduates, or to ‘fast track’ particular employees, but if you find you’re not eligible for a formal mentoring scheme, find someone who is willing to mentor you informally, someone who is familiar with your industry, or maybe someone who has had experience of particular life stages, such as returning to work after career breaks …and if you’re in the aviation or aerospace industry, join alta – it’s free!
4) What is your top tip for businesses looking to recruit more women?
Take a look at your senior level employees, including board level. Are they representative of your workforce? It’s difficult to be what you can’t see. Supporting your female employees, through a mentoring scheme for example, can help them to feel valued, assist them in getting into leadership positions, and could go a long way toward encouraging women to return to the industry, increasing the retention rates of women in the industry. Also, be prepared to offer flexible or reduced hours working for all employees.
If you are interested in hearing more about this topic, please join our Future Impact Webinar ‘Supporting women in male-dominated industries’ on Monday 25 November.