A piece in today’s Times, emphases ours:
Openreach hopes to attract thousands more female applicants for engineering roles by removing “gender bias” in its job adverts.
The telecoms network said that it would overhaul the language it used in job descriptions after reasearch that it had commissioned found that macho language could be deterring one in two women applicants.
It said that an experiment with an entry-level engineering role suggested that women’s interest increased by more than 200 per cent when “consciously unbiased job specifications” were used and added that by adopting the lessons from the research, it hoped that at least one in five of the 2,500 engineers it planned to hire this year would be women — more than ten times historic levels.
Openreach, an independent division of BT, maintains the telephone cables, ducts, cabinets and exchanges that connect most homes and businesses in Britain to the national broadband and telephone network.
According to the Women’s Engineering Society, fewer than one in eight of the country’s engineers is a woman.
Openreach said that it had worked with linguistic experts from a business called Linguistic Landscapes, as well as with Chris Begeny, from the University of Exeter, a “gender bias expert”, to examine the role that job adverts might play in the lack of female representation in the profession. It rewrote an advert for an entry-level engineering role to “speak to men and women equally”, tackling “masculine skews in the language used”, descriptions of required skills and “latent gendered phraseology” .
Changes included swapping the job title “engineer” for “network co-ordinator” and substituting phrases such as “getting stuck in” and “getting your hands dirty” with phrases such as “comfortable talking to people” and “I love that feeling of sorting something out for someone”.
A survey of 2,000 working-age women found that one in three felt the original advert was more suited to a man than a woman, compared with about one in eight for the new advert. Despite four in five women admitting that they would not consider working in engineering, more than half were interested in the role once Openreach’s advert had been rewritten and the word “engineer” had been removed.
Kevin Brady, Openreach’s human resources director, said: “We hope that this will be the catalyst for helping to break down barriers stopping women from considering a role in engineering.”
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