Since decades women are considered, according to evolution theory, as the weaker sex. Society made an impression on women just being proficient in managing a family but not at work. But honestly speaking this concept is based on outdated stereotypes. As years go by women were able to effectively compete at work, but especially in business or male-dominated industries the widespread idea that they are less appropriate or educated for such jobs is present any longer. It is obviously time to change these thoughts and pave the way to more women in such business fields.
Even though many sectors trying to open by and by for women in leading positions, most of the traditional fields employ no more than 30% women so far. Corresponding to a survey from findcourses.co.uk following sectors are affected:
- Electrical and Mechanical Engineering
- Hazard and Risk Management
- Logistics and Transport
- Oil and Gas/Oil and Gas safety
- Construction industry skills
- IT business
In contrast to slightly growing numbers of currently working women in these business fields, the development observed is the increase of women who are doing further education courses to land a job in such fields.
- Electrical and Mechanical Engineering: 80%
- Hazard and Risk Management: 44%
- Logistics and Transport: 43%
- Oil and Gas/Oil and Gas safety: 36%
- Construction industry skills: 30%
- IT business: 39%
Looking at specific industries
Each male-dominated business field deals different with the gender gap. In some sectors companies are steadily working to help more women landing jobs or studying courses. Others lag behind and need some changes in their working culture. How several branches cope with occupations practiced by women is collected below.
1. Building trade
In this sector women these days make up around 14% of construction industry professionals and this number can only be set to rise with more and more women who decide to choose construction jobs. A company who is providing service and digital solutions for metal and steel products recognised the added value of women in this business field and decided to fill their leading vacancies with more females. 37% of the new entrants that come into this industry from higher education are women already. With rewards and benefits firms try to render free occupations more attractive to women. They also attract with various possibilities for career progression and skill development.
2. IT business
The second-fastest growing sector for female take-up is IT Business in the last ten years. But only 5% of leadership positions in this business field and 19% in regular positions are held by women today. Even though things changed positively for women, this sectors needs to do more across all levels of business to show that IT and technology is an attractive career where female candidates can thrive.
3. Electrical and mechanical engineering
Up to now only 12% of all engineers in the UK are women and only one in five of jobs are held by women in the wider engineering sector as a whole. This sectors need to attract more females and retaining those women to ensure economic growth and financial stability. The prospects for women in this business field are auspicious, women can expect to earn the same as their male counterparts.
Women facing stereotypes
When women effectively managed to land a job in one of the mentioned business fields, there are some challenges they have to face and deal with in male-dominated working cultures which. They need to change in the near future because they still deter many females.
- A lot of men facing a problem with emancipated women to this day. They link a woman only to be a “caring mother” or office housekeeper. Women in leading positions have to deal with such prejudices in particular.
- Moreover, women often are treated as outsiders who threaten the norm.
- In the named sectors continuing education up to PhD is important for an ambitious career. The work/life demands a woman is confronted with may delay or hinder her chances.
- Mentoring programs are considered important as well for being successful. Women have fewer opportunities to receive the mentoring they needed.
- Several men think they outclass women and still regard them as only being good in parenting and doing the household. That is one reason for sexual harassment at the workplace which sometimes happens towards women.
Underestimation as benefit
The challenges that women have to counter when working in male-dominated industries should no longer be an obstacle. Women need to overcome such difficulties and prejudices and start using these so called disadvantages as opportunity not as an insult. Being an underrated woman in those business fields gives them a competitive edge over men and they need to use those for themselves.
Supporting women in male-dominated business fields
It is obviously that several male-dominated industries working on closing the oversized gender gap by now. But it will last for years or decades to strike a balance. Until then women need to educate further, work harder and be more confident and knowledgeable. They should see the underestimation and difficulties as opportunities and not as disadvantage. Furthermore, they need to challenge stereotypes and change people’s or men’s obsolete opinions. If the women who already hardly worked for a great job in an industry dominated by men set a good example and serve as thought leader many others will follow and things will change, albeit slowly.