Last fall, SWE members were invited to participate in a global study by FP Analytics, and a number of you accepted. The study focused on understanding how women are advancing in male-dominated industries. The report, Women as Levers of Change, was released on March 26th, 2020. It highlights the gender inequality that exists in these industries, but also the positive correlation between women’s representation in leadership and corporate profitability, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility.
The study included an analysis of over 2,300 publicly listed companies around the world and numerous interviews and surveys of women at various stages of their careers. Fourteen industries—including energy, industrial, materials, utilities & waste, and consumer products— were studied. What likely comes as no surprise is that women are underrepresented in these industries across all employment levels, but are even more underrepresented in management and on boards.
There is much to learn from this research, but I want to point out a couple of things that stood out to me. First, we are always interested in adding to our knowledge about the positive impact that diversity has on company productivity. This study found that corporate profitability was 47% higher for companies with the highest percentage of women in management roles compared to companies with the lowest percentage.
Corporate profitability [is] 47% higher for companies with the highest percentage of women in management roles.
Second, the researchers discuss the need to create more inclusive workplaces in these industries. Given SWE’s research on gender bias and culture alignment in engineering, their recommendations resonate:
- Eliminate gender-based pay gaps
- Combat sexual harassment
- Diversify shortlists for promotion and succession planning
- Support work-life balance
- Provide strong mentorship and sponsorship programs for women
The list of recommendations is long, but the data supports the impact that such initiatives can have on helping to develop an inclusive work environment.
I had the opportunity to listen in on FP Analytics’ virtual report launch on March 26th. The speakers spent some time discussing the importance of male allies for gender equity. I cannot agree more with the need to include everyone in this work! Check out our articles about the importance of male allies in SWE Magazine’s 2019 State of Women in Engineering issue.
Of note in the Women as Levers of Change Report are the calls for action for policy makers, companies, investors, and industry associations. As a professional association, SWE does its part to support gender diversity in the engineering profession through its efforts to (1) celebrate the achievements and contributions of women; (2) facilitate best practice sharing for building inclusive work cultures; and (3) collaborating with other organizations to advocate for women in the industry. We appreciate the attention that other organizations are bringing to the issues facing women in male-dominated professions and will continue to work together to promote change.
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- SWE Research Update: Women in Engineering by the Numbers (Nov. 2019)