Have you ever considered starting your own business? Do you have an idea for a brilliant new cyber security product? Then HutZero 5 is for you! Apply now to join the FREE action-packed week to transform your cyber idea into a viable start-up. More info…
Posts from the ‘CamAWISE news’ Category
Most bright and ambitious people set high goals, and the recent workshop by Dr Marloes Tijssen titled “Time Management with a Touch of Coaching” helped the delegates to get more time efficient to reach their high goals. It was a great turn out with accomplished delegates from the university, local labs, corporate industry, and general members of our community. Imagine the lively discussion in this brain powered room generated by Marloes’ useful tools and tips. Let me summarise this informative evening.
We began with the end in mind using an illustration tool that helped us envision where we want to be and where we are now. The next question was, “How do you see yourself getting there?” The workshop provided not just how, but what to use, that will help us be more organised and to get there more thoughtfully.Read more…
Cambridge AWiSE invites you to a private Chocolate Lock-In at Hotel Chocolat
8 July 2019, 6:15 pm or 18 July 2019, 6:15 pm
Location: Hotel Chocolat, Lion Yard (43 Lion Yard, Cambridge CB2 3NA)
You will be greeted with a glass of Prosecco or non-alcoholic drink before mingling with other guests over a chocolate tasting (5 chocolates each). More info…
Attending an event addressing “gender equality” or lack thereof seems to be a given these days, but attending one where men are described as “allies” refreshingly bridges the gap between two sides who are too often being described “in conflict”. A discussion by a very balanced panel (men/women, experienced grey hair/young and on a learning curve, established/still breaking through) made time fly past quicker than one would expect. But that would be down to the passion, which was equally shared between all panellists and the fact that the engaged audience counted men and women and included people with even more grey hair than I have!
One of the issue that was brought up is that the challenges of this issue is created by how careers have changed, where in academia and STEMM careers we now reach stability well after our life responsibilities have become serious: mortgages, relationships, children. Trying to manage the career breakthrough when these responsibilities become all-important has added pressure, which unfortunately, still weighs on women more than men.
It would be easy to say that “things are changing”, but that is a cop out statement: bullying of women (and men) who may approach their life choices, priorities or career and staff management in a novel or simply different way is still pervasive and effected by the new generation as much as the old. What has changed is the number of people who don’t accept the status quo. But institutions can also play a role: promote people who are good leaders as well as decent scientists! The promotion application does not contain any item about how we manage a meeting…yet as a senior staff member, isn’t that what we spend 75% of our time doing? I heard the following remark: “We should fix the system, not women”. And can we replace ‘the system’ in that sentence by ‘the university code of conduct’?
The thing that struck me last night was a statement by one of the panellists: “It is easier for men to do something than finding out what to do”. Even for the most motivated of men, changing the culture, even in the microcosm of one’s own little work group, triggers often a “saviour” behaviour where we think we know best what to do. I raised that question last night and one of the panellist’s answered: “ask the question rather than come up with the answer, get people to spell out their own strengths, appetites and drivers”. It may seem obvious…but it is not always the natural reflex.
Institutions set out big policies, but often just basic decent human behaviour is a much more straightforward way to deal with issues on a daily basis. It is about simply being interested and involved in how other people tick. There was a lot of talk about shared parental leave. It is clear that, from a personal point of view, being more involved with the running of the house and looking after my girls, has made me understand the challenges of running both a career and personal time. It has also given the opportunity to my wife to have time for her own career. As well as head space and energy! But shared parental leave is still less than accepted these days (apparently only 5% take up). Financial incentives as well as practical incentives are absent whilst they are in place in other countries. It may sound counter intuitive these days, but let’s look beyond the borders and see what works somewhere else!
And a last point for whoever thought the above is just “sissy stuff” or that last night’s discussion was not worth attending: diversity is strength, the most resilient systems are those that have enough inner diversity to adapt and grow through any challenge and have long-term sustainability. If you don’t promote and champion differences at some point, you and your work will be a dying breed.
BLOG – How Springboard has increased applications from female engineers and scientists (Part 3 of 3)
In my previous blog I discussed how women can help male leaders to realise the value of their individual strengths and the potential for diversifying their work force beyond the usual range of characteristics that they look for. This article goes on to look at how we changed our recruitment process in light of this new realisation, and the dramatic results that followed.
We started with increasing our ability to understand what mattered to various people in their professional careers. We split the problem into three steps: recruitment, retention, and promotion. It rapidly became obvious that we had to start at the first of these, and then shift focus upwards as the benefits moved up through the company.
We introduced several changes to our recruitment process. Adverts were updated to remove gendered language. For example, saying “We are looking for candidates with outstanding technical skills” seemed just an honest request to me, but I came to realise that some really good candidates would be put off because they weren’t confident that they would meet the requirement. All candidates were given a guidance document to help them prepare. Upon arrival, they got a tour by a member of staff similar to themselves who could act as a role model. Candidates were asked to start talking about one of their own projects, to help get into the swing of the interview before tackling the more challenging technical questions. We spoke at more length in the interview about the many training and mentoring opportunities at our company.
All this was progress in the right direction, but it didn’t really get to the root of the problem, which was insufficient applications from women. If they don’t apply, we can’t offer them jobs. So our focus turned to how to get more women to apply for our jobs.
We started a ‘Women in Technical Consultancy’ scheme, with the aim of reaching out in a personal way to potential applicants. The key attribute of this scheme is a variety of soft ways to get to know the company before taking the step of applying and coming for interview. For example, applicants are welcome to have an informal phone call, or drop by for coffee and a look around. We give talks at the university and hold open evenings at our labs. There are internship options as a possible first step to something longer-term, and there is the potential for 6 – 18 month placements. The literature for the scheme also makes prominent reference to some of the great features of our company: our ethical policy, STEM and outreach work, focus on learning. Every person in our company loves these features, male and female alike, so why not make it known in a way that attracts candidates?
The scheme has been a satisfying success. Applications from women grew every year, starting originally at 13% and rising, four years later, to 33%. And so now that we’ve got many more applying, and a great interview process, we are starting to get some cracking members of staff joining us thanks to this initiative. With that part of the process showing results, we are able to move onto the later stages of retainment and promotion. I’m looking forward to that challenge!
The key to this success is for the manager to put themselves inside the heads of the candidates. It is really not that difficult, if only the manager has a sufficiently open mind to give it a try, which many don’t. I tend to think of it like this: applying for a job is scary. You might be asked things you don’t know. You might be rejected. You might make a silly mistake. We can all relate to that, men and women alike. So by making the application process a little gentler, and allowing confidence to build steadily over several touch points, candidates are more able to perform at their best. This is a good thing for all candidates, and helps us get high quality people including those who were always good enough, but find it hard to prove in the interview.
Springboard is a technical consultancy which develops innovative medical devices such as auto-injectors, infusion pumps and electromechanical surgical equipment. Springboard works through all product development process stages: concepts, proof of principle in the laboratory, design for manufacture and verification. Through its strategic partnerships with broad industries and technical areas, there is opportunity to develop careers in project leadership, technical specialities, line management and sales.
Further information can be found at www.springboard.pro.