Entrenched macho work cultures deter talented female applicants, finds survey

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’Gender barriers’ in certain sectors exacerbated by patronising male colleagues

‘Macho’ working environments are the biggest barrier to attracting talented women into male dominated sectors, such as the military, construction and breweries, according to a recent survey.

Patronising colleagues, boredom and safety fears were also significant deterrents to joining these workforces, according to the survey of 1,000 women by clothing manufacturer Stormline.

The survey results showed that the work environment was viewed as more significant than the actual job itself in attracting or deterring female talent.

Breweries and construction sites were perceived to be the least appealing places to work with 40 per cent of women citing those as the most macho, followed by the security sector (26 per cent).

More than half (53 per cent) of the women questioned believed jobs in the military were the most dangerous and four in ten (39 per cent) identified the marine and fishing sector as a potentially unsafe working environment.

Respondents flagged aviation and medicine as the industries they thought were most likely to have patronising male colleagues, with four in ten (42 per cent) citing this as a key concern in aviation jobs and a third (32 per cent) in medical roles.

Caroline Livesey, a geotechnical design consultant who often works on engineering projects in male-dominated environments, said attitudes to women often created a gender barrier in the workplace.

“I think societal bias tends to pigeonhole women and men into specific roles. The knock on impact of this is that both genders are inclined to assume women cannot make good engineers as it is not a role that we naturally see them in.”

Women needed to help break down such preconceptions and work harder than their male counterparts to succeed in male-dominated environments, Livesey said.

“On a day-to-day basis for females in civil engineering is that they have to work far harder than their male counterparts to earn respect, to progress, and to be trusted technically.”

Regan McMillan, director of Stormline, believes that the so-called ‘manly’ industries need an injection of female talent.

“Safety fears, especially in the marine industry where Stormline operates, drive away lots of talented professionals, both men and women. While the marine industry in particular isn’t for the faint-hearted, technology has changed dramatically over recent years and safety has improved a lot,” he said.

“I would encourage anyone, male or female, considering a marine career, to speak to people currently working at sea to get their take on it. Social media is great for this and if it helps increase the number of women in our industry, that’s only going to be a good thing.”

Source: CIPD –



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