Females in male-dominated industries
A worldwide increase in the number of women entering the workforce has been taking place for many years. For instance, only in the UK there has been an increase of women in full-time employment from 29% in 1985 to 44% in 2017. This change has also reached us at SPS International , as we had the opportunity to recruit an increasing number of aspiring women in senior positions for international companies. Nevertheless, certain industries and positions remain dominated by men. For this reason, two female professionals, who were employed by SPS International in the Animal Health & Nutrition and Coatings sector were interviewed about the understaffing of women in their positions.
What made the decision to work in this industry?
Based on the conversations, each woman had individual incentives to work in their respective industies. Firstly, it was their own motivation to face new challenges and broaden their horizons by changing the direction of the job industry and enter a new market. In addition, inspiring personalities had a strong influence on both women’s future careers, besides hard-working family members and professors who encouraged and supported them to pursue this profession, as well as co-workers in their first work experience that helped them to advance professionally.
What challenges does a woman in this industry have to face?
Arguably one of the most powerful aspects that is still deeply embedded in our society is the expectation that women have to choose between a successful career and a fulfilling family life. As the Head of Goods for Resale, EMEA CoE (Centre of Excellence) reports, this is the expectation she grew up with and it took her years to talk to the manager in order to understand that both a career and a family life as a woman are feasible.
Not only can one’s own bias become a hurdle but also the feeling of loneliness and belonging. This is what a female Sales Manager in the Animal Health and Nutrition sector had to experience, due to the understaffing of women, especially in commercial teams or managerial positions, the sense of belonging was missing and often led to a lack of distance during meetings and customer visits.
What are the experienced entrepreneurial initiatives and changed mindsets?
To circumvent or greatly minimise precisely these challenges, companies that suffer from under-staffing of women in particular have introduced measures and initiatives. This includes providing networks and societies that support females. In this case, Network for Women Leaders offers content in the form of blogs and videos on the topic of female leadership as well as social events with speakers. Secondly, many companies have already designed their KPIs for more diversity in order to support female employees in these sectors and to create more attraction to the company. For women, social media, especially LinkedIn, has also benefited as groups such as The Female Lead, which features inspiring women in the form of interviews and videos, creates a sense of belonging and encouragement among the community. Nevertheless, the basis of these aforementioned obstacles lies in the mindset of our society and in this case one should work with education that, for instance, females can have a career as well as a family and be able to estimate abilities with as little prejudice as possible.
Both hard-working women want to use this conversation to encourage people to enter an industry even if it is currently male-dominated. You should always follow your own interests and preferences. Once you have overcome your own boundaries and have gained the relevant knowledge and skills, you see that everything is possible, and you can always reach your goal.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”