At a recent visit to a Company’s Head Office, one of our female students was struck by just how few women see saw working there.
There was nothing out of the ordinary at that Company as City Finance has traditionally been a male dominated environment, like Engineering or Construction. And like these industries, City Finance employers, collectively and individually, have been trying to attract more female applicants to start redressing the balance. Nursing, Primary School Teaching and HR, to name a few, have equally been trying to attract more male applicants.
These changes can often take a long time, and the pioneers who take the early steps into these industries should be applauded – starting any new career, changing job, shifting employer is already a stressful activity. Being additionally different, perhaps due to gender, race, ethnicity and so on, can add to the stress.
But it’s also important to realise that it can also help you stand out; when I worked in HR I was always in the minority, and that meant that people noticed me. It’s quite possible that this meant I was aware of opportunities that others could have missed.
Employers (and careers advisers) have to support people who are looking to build a career in an area where they will be seen as different, so that those individuals can seize the opportunities that it gives, and help achieve the balance.