International Women's Day 2022

08.03.2022

International Women’s Day (IWD), marked 8th March annually, is a day to celebrate women’s achievements around the globe and to take action for female equality.

It has been 111 years since the first gathering held in 1911, when more than 1 million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. While we have made great progress over the past century, there is still much to be done to level the playing fields and abolish discrimination.

IWD serves as a yearly reminder of how far we have come and what is yet to be accomplished. The UK have successfully acknowledged women’s rights to work, vote, be trained and hold public office. However, be it deliberate or unconscious, there is still discrimination taking place.

This year’s 2022 campaign theme is #BreakTheBias. Bias can make it difficult for women to progress in their careers as opportunities are distributed unfairly.

SERT have a front row seat in seeing how bias, stereotypes and discrimination is still affecting our industries. Gender diversity within technology and engineering is one of the many social issues that affect our community and partners, but it could also be argued that gender diversity can be the answer to some of our other social issues (e.g., the skills shortage, lack of new entrants, an ageing workforce). Therefore, SERT have been actively investigating this problem in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth (UoP).

Engaging once again with the Business Consultancy Project (BCP), we worked together with students Luke Shaw and Charlotte Fairies to help us investigate the lack of female diversity in the talent pool.

BCP is an optional module for final year students, giving them the opportunity to use their skills outside of the university and gain experience from a local business. Find out more about last year’s BCP project. For this year’s project, Luke and Charlotte produced various documents on female engagement to compliment our own findings and allow us to implement data driven solutions. For #IWD2022, we have asked they summarise their findings to highlight the issues facing women in our industries.

They write,

In a world where society expects equality between all civilians, it is clear inequalities still exist with high levels of discrimination found in education, employment, family, and society as a whole. Individuals and organisations often state ‘we don't discriminate’, yet this term is used too broadly because as a society, we have historically developed a reputation for discrimination. Unfortunately, knowingly or not we discriminate individuals based on their race, age, sexuality, gender, and the list goes on. 

We have tracked the issue of gender inequality as far back as the story of Adam and Eve, where literature suggests that there is a hierarchical ordering of humans from the beginning of the world. The story emphasises the creation of the man as the central narrative and the creation of women as a secondary, derivative event. This narrative of male superiority has become one of society's most pressing societal challenges. The idea that men have greater importance over females is an obscene ideology and dismisses the roles women play developing a world that continues to thrive.

Male ideology towards women has typically been based on gender stereotypes. The idea that men hold a greater hierarchical standing in the UK was put up to the test in 1987. The British Social Attitudes survey found 48% of individuals sampled agreed the quote “a man’s job is to make money; a woman’s duty is to look after the home and family”.

Whilst this was fundamentally the idea underpinning society back in the 80’s, this type of mindset no longer has a place in the UK today. Unfortunately, we are still feeling the effects of this toxic mindset. Despite some of the world’s most influential powers making a commitment to change, the question must be asked: what can be done by businesses to tackle gender inequalities in their industries? 

SERT are more than aware that they operate within heavily male dominated industries. For example, in the UK Gas sector only 0.5% of registered Gas Safe Engineers are women - but why is this?

Through our findings and asking a range of people in the SERT office and training centre, we identify the causation of gender perceptions to have been influenced from a young age. Children may rule out career options with media and peers influencing the perceptions a child may have on a specific career or industry.

According to a study conducted by Education and Employers and University College London, 36% of children base their career ambitions on someone they are familiar with, while 45% were heavily influenced by media channels including television, film and radio (Education & Employers, 2018).

This report highlighted a greater need for collaboration between educational institutions and employers to reduce bias and ensure children have opportunities to access role models in a diverse range of sectors.

By doing so, they increase a child's awareness of future career pathways, ensuring they can consider a pathway that may not be stereotypical of their gender nor in line with societal norms. Why shouldn't a female want to consider the pathway of a female gas engineer, there’s nothing stopping them minus societal perception of pink vs blue jobs.

In addition to supporting local colleges and universities, SERT have shown amazing support toward young people through their work with Gosport and Fareham Multi-Academy Trust (GFM). The collaboration effort between SERT and GFM emerged in July 2021 from behind the scenes at the Gosport STEM centre day event. Such a collaboration allows GFM and SERT to help develop STEM knowledge, awareness, and skills for young people in their local area. Employees at SERT have also now committed to the STEM Ambassador scheme.

It is our view that more businesses must collectively take action to disprove stereotypes and show case role models to inspire the next generation. We can tell that the team at SERT have the drive and passion to continue their good work and challenge the stereotypes, so we ask for more businesses to join them on their journey!

If YOU are looking for a new career in Gas, Electric, or Renewables then SERT can ensure YOU receive all the support YOU require to get your qualifications. They may even have a job lined up for YOU via their in-house recruitment service no matter who YOU are. We can confirm that SERT does not discriminate race, age, sexuality, gender and lives up to their purpose.

Luke Shaw

Charlotte Faries

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

#BreakTheBias #IWD2022 #SERTTrain #Inspire #Support

Posted by: Callum Belch

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