A tech company that ‘gender-proofed’ its recruitment adverts saw an 80% increase in the number of women recruited into technical positions, according to a new report on female participation in senior management roles.
The study, from employers’ body Ibec, recommends gender-proofing job ads, as research shows that their choice of words can encourage or deter female applicants. Words like ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘fearless’ tend to attract men, while words such as ‘transparent’ and ‘in touch with’ are more attractive to women.
The report found a severe lack of female participation in senior management roles across most sectors of the economy. Drawing on a Central Statistics Office study of companies with over 250 employees, it found that only 11.5% of chief executive officers were female.
The Ibec report compared female participation rates across various levels of management from 2001 and 2018. It found increased numbers of women in senior management functions in HR and personnel, finance and accounting, and customer service roles.
But women are still largely absent from management functions in manufacturing, distribution and engineering, where they are poorly represented at all levels.
While the overall number of women in senior management roles has increased since 2001, they are concentrated in particular sectors. The Ibec report traces this to schools. It highlights the lack of opportunities to take subjects like mechanical drawing or physics in all-girls schools, or home economics in all-boys schools.
It also said that women at lower management levels faced barriers to accessing middle and senior management positions. This means that hiring more women at lower management levels, and incentivising them to enter male-dominated sectors may not necessarily translate into greater representation in middle and senior management roles.
The lack of women in senior roles and in certain occupational sectors is one of the factors feeding the gender pay gap. Fórsa has highlighted this in its #ClockedOut campaign, which is advocating legislation to introduce mandatory gender pay gap reporting.