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Breaking Barriers: Promoting Gender Equality in Male-Dominated Industries

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Posted On MAR 22, 2024 

The number of women in fields like STEM, Tech, Supply Chain, and Finance is growing, but there are still significant gender gaps within these traditionally, male-dominated industries. Males in STEM, for instance, account for around two thirds of working professionals, next to only about 30% of females. Despite the considerable strides women have made in the workforce, bridging these gaps remains a challenge, and progress has been…slow, to say the least.


According to the World Economic Forum, it could take approximately 135 years to achieve gender parity in this economy—a number we don’t particularly like. So, how can organizations work to shrink this time frame, and create a more diverse, equitable work environment for industries where women have been historically underrepresented? It will require an approach that confronts the unique barriers for women and promotes greater workplace inclusivity. Organizations in these industries need to recognize the positive impact of a diverse workforce. Embracing both men and women categorically improves innovation, problem-solving, and overall performance, making it critical that we work towards achieving gender equality and breaking down barriers for women.


Why Is the Gender Gap Still So Substantial Today?


The meaningful progress that’s been made over the last fifty years has led to misconceptions that workplace gender bias and stereotypes are no longer common. But the reality is that unconscious workplace bias is still standard today, and many women, particularly in male-dominated industries, feel the weight of those biases. Workplace cultures that fail to address a lack of inclusivity contribute to gaps in female participation and interest when it comes to pursuing these career paths. Inflexible work policies, gender-based discrimination, and a lack of family-friendly programs disproportionately affects women, making it difficult for them to thrive in certain industries.


The traditional stereotypes that suggest women excel more in certain professions contribute to the gender gaps that we still see today. It’s important then, that as a society we drop this kind of dialogue and introduce a new conversation—one that fundamentally supports and encourages women to pursue career paths in areas like STEM, Finance, Supply Chain and Tech. To exacerbate the problem, many women lack mentorship or guidance in these fields. Organizations tend to have a shortage of female mentors and role-models, making it challenging for other women to envision what female success looks like in the industry.


What Can Your Organization Do to Bridge the Gap?


1. Promote Inclusive Hiring Practices


To improve inclusive hiring practices, start by defining what diversity and inclusion will look like within your organization. Two effective ways to enhance inclusivity are mitigating biases and expanding candidate outreach. By addressing unconscious biases that may already exist in the hiring process, and actively reaching out to underrepresented groups, you can begin to foster a more diverse workforce. Do this by:


  • Blind resume screening
  • Diversifying interview panels
  • Holding structured, consistent interviews among candidates
  • Attending diverse job fairs
  • Partnering with diversity-focused organizations
  • Leveraging social media to send a clear message to female candidates


2. Address Gender Pay Gaps


It should go without saying, but addressing the gender pay gap is a crucial step towards eliminating disparities between male and female workers. Conducting regular pay equity audits is, of course, the first step. However it's equally important to implement strategies that actively work towards closing those gaps. When hiring or promoting employees, establish transparent communication about salary expectations and be clear about promotion criteria to help build a fair and inclusive environment that benefits all team members.


3. Provide Support Networks and Mentorship Programs


One of the greatest challenges for women entering STEM, Tech, Finance, and Supply Chain industries is the absence of female mentorship programs. Unlike their male counterparts who may be able to find industry role-models in any corner of their lives, including within their organizations, women do not have the same advantage. Providing the right kind of support and mentorship empowers women to overcome obstacles, better navigate their careers, shatter glass ceilings and stay motivated in male-dominated industries. It makes a huge impact. Implementing these kinds of programs doesn’t have to be overly costly either. Some suggestions include:


  • Holding virtual meetings and seminars
  • Networking events
  • Female mentorship programs within your organization
  • Educational opportunities for women, by women


4. Create an Inclusive Company Culture


An alarming 93% of women say they fear that reporting non-inclusive behaviors at work will have a negative effect on their career. This number highlights an urgent need for companies to improve the effort around building a safe and welcoming environment for women to thrive in. Closing these gender gaps means establishing an ongoing dialogue that emphasizes gender inclusivity as a fundamental part of company success. This dialogue should promote the celebration of different perspectives and encourage female participation, fostering their well-being and contributing to the success of the organization. Annual diversity and equality training should be implemented to educate employees and cultivate awareness of biases and discriminatory behavior. With education comes the elimination of misconceptions that hinder progress in the workplace. 


Make the future of work, work for everyone


LHH helps individuals, teams, and organizations find and prepare for what's next in the world of work. We empower organizations to expand their capabilities and workers to build brighter futures. Let’s work together to make the future work for everyone.