Closing the Gender Gap Among Upper Level Engineering Professionals

Closing the Gender Gap Among Upper Level Engineering Professionals

Approximately 11 percent of engineering professionals are women, according to the US Department of Labor. It’s challenging enough to attract women engineers, but for upper level positions, it’s made even more difficult because many women don’t opt to stay in the industry – over half of women in engineering completely leave, according to research in the Harvard Business Review. Help close the gender gap among upper-level engineering professionals by prioritizing making these influential factors appealing to women engineers:


Employer branding is key in ensuring that women engineers view your organization as inclusive. In your recruitment pieces, such as your company website and the job description itself, be aware of what type of language you use in describing your organization and the types of candidates you want. Focus on communicating the desire for talent, diversity, and collaboration, versus competition or terms that inadvertently signify that your organization prefers “alpha male” types.


Having the goal of growing an underrepresented group on your team doesn’t mean that you give preferential treatment to candidates that are part of the group, such as women engineers. It does, however, mean that you need to pay careful attention to ensuring that your evaluation process doesn’t encourage any subconscious bias that leads to the selection of the same type of candidate each time. Clarify the skills and traits most necessary to the position and base your decisions only on how candidates meet that specific criteria to organically make more diverse hiring choices.


Examine your company’s compensation policies to ensure they are representative of your company’s goals for attracting and retaining women engineers. If the goal is to low-ball with the hopes of getting the “cheapest deal” and only budging if there is hard negotiation from candidates (rather than paying what’s in your budget), you may find yourself losing valuable workers eventually whose strengths don’t lie in arguing for more money. If women engineers are hired in at a lower compensation rate, once they reach the point of moving toward upper-level positions, they may realize they are not being paid their market value and leave.


The fact that over half of women leave the engineering industry, rather than moving up into upper level positions, points to a possible cultural problem in the industry. Ensure that women engineers are not shut out or made to feel like valued contributors because of difference in personality or any choices they make to have children. Offer flexibility as a workplace benefit and encourage work-life balance, rather than cultivating a reputation, even unintentionally or inaccurately, that employees feel pressured to be workaholics and doesn’t reward more balanced employees with promotion opportunities.

Attract a diverse group of candidates for your engineering positions with Spectrum Staffing. We have worked with some of the nation’s largest companies to accomplish their hiring needs for over 25 years and to offer industry expertise to find the top talent in engineering, as well as scientific/pharmaceutical and human resources/business operations placement. Contact Spectrum  today to learn more about our business and staffing solutions.

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