Why is it important for your company to strive for gender equality?
Aside from the obvious issues of morality associated with the subject, the PMG recognises the importance of gender equality in manufacturing and engineering simply because it makes good business sense. Our sector more than most suffers from significant skill shortages and yet despite accounting for half the human population, only just over one in seven engineering and technology students are women and less than one in ten first year students studying mechanical engineering, are women . If we are going to succeed in tackling these skills shortages we cannot continue to fight with effectively one arm tied behind our backs, instead we need to have both sexes equally open to the possibility of pursuing careers in what some claim to be, the most intrinsically meritocratic of all professions.
What steps have you taken so far?
The PMG is a network of local manufacturing companies in the Plymouth travel-to-work-area. Recognising that its predecessor body was proving unsustainable, we were instrumental in helping to set up WISP when it was first formed in 2014. A few of our members, for example, Babcock International and Plessey have been involved since ‘day one’. We’ve been active members of a Committee that helps to steer the strategic direction of the group and organises events on the ground. On occasion, the PMG has helped to sponsor the costs of catering at our meetings and paid for some marketing materials in support of the group. We aim to continue to do more of this in the future.
What advice would you give to other STEM companies that want to increase their gender equality?
Encourage your staff to become involved with WISP; offer to sponsor or host one of our upcoming events or provide a key note speaker. Take a stand at our next careers fair for young girls. Get on board and help us to continue our success to date long into the future.
Why are networking groups like WISP important to your company?
WISP is a tangible demonstration of the collective strength of our movement in Plymouth. The more individuals and companies that become involved with WISP, the stronger and more influential and successful we will become. In particular, WISP’s work with schools and young girls who have yet to determine their GCSE and A Level options is really invaluable.
WISP regularly takes a stand at the PMG’s Annual Apprentice Jobs Fair in the Guildhall each March and offers impartial advice and support to female candidates who are contemplating applying for apprenticeships. This service and others like it potentially benefits firms like yours who maybe are looking to solve their current talent shortages by growing their own in the future.