Female engineers are more likely to be victims of recruitment bias when trying to get back to work
WOMEN trying to return to the engineering industry after a career break are more likely to experience recruitment bias than men, according to a survey by Hampshire-based STEM Returners.
The survey found 27 per cent of women said they feel they have experienced bias in recruitment processes due to their gender compared to 8 per cent of men, while 30 per cent of women said they feel they have experienced bias in recruitment processes due to childcare responsibilities compared to 6 per cent of men.
STEM Returners returns qualified and experienced STEM professionals after a career break by working with employers to facilitate paid short-term employment placements.
More than 150 engineers have returned to work through the scheme across the UK.
Director Natalie Desty said: ‘The UK engineering industry needs to recruit 182,000 engineers annually to keep up with demand – this is not news. But despite this very clear and desperate skills shortage, 61 per cent of STEM professionals on a career break are finding the process of attempting to return to work either difficult or very difficult and women are bearing the brunt of this challenge.
‘There is a perception that a career break automatically leads to a deterioration of skills. But the reality is, that many people on a career break keep themselves up to date with their industry, are able to refresh their skills easily when back in work.’
Haley Storey, from Portsmouth, is now in an engineering role after being away from the industry for 17 years. She previously ran website About My Area Portsmouth.
Haley took part in one of STEM Returners programmes with BAE Systems, and after completing a 12-week placement working on a Type 45 Destroyer, she joined the company permanently as a project engineer.
She said: ‘I left my role as a production manager in 2003 when I started my family. I was self-employed after that but as my role wasn’t related to engineering, I couldn’t see a way to get back in.
‘The STEM Returner scheme seemed to be directed at people just like me.
‘Career breaks should not put good people at the bottom of the list – we still have ability, knowledge and often transferable skills so it would be great for that to be recognised.’