How to attract female candidates studying STEM

We often get asked this by employers wanting to get more women into science and technology roles. According to PwC, 3% of females say a career in tech is their first choice and just 16% of women have had a career in tech suggested to them (vs. 33% of men). 

Earlier this year we conducted some research with young job-seekers aged 16-24 (‘Generation Z’). Here we pick out 8 top tips for attracting females in STEM that you can apply straight away. 


1. Never leave out the practical details


Our survey respondents were frustrated by job descriptions that left out basic details like salary (“competitive salary – what does that mean?”) and location. In fact, 64% of respondents said if location was missing this would put them off even applying. 

The other key elements to include are a description of the role and a (short!) list of duties so people can imagine themselves in the role. 

Why not include a little map of your location, for example? Being as specific as you can about salary, location and working hours is appreciated by this young audience. 


2. Include clear and inclusive entry requirements


Women studying STEM subjects were significantly more likely to say they would be put off applying for a role if entry requirements and qualifications were missing from the job ad. 

They were also significantly more likely to be put off by a lack of information about career progression. personal development opportunities and the working environment and culture. 

Make sure it’s easy to navigate to entry requirements – use clear subheadings and consider carefully what you’re asking for. Are the requirements realistic for relatively inexperienced candidates? Focus on skills that can be developed rather than specific knowledge or experience. 

Include information about any personal development or training opportunities and give a flavour of what it’s like to work with you.


3. Inspire them!


Once you’ve made sure you’ve included all the relevant practical information, take a fresh look at your job advert. Women in STEM were slightly more likely to be nearer the ‘inspire me’ end of the scale and really wanted to understand the experience they would have of working for the prospective employer. 

Women in the STEM group were slightly more likely to prefer to work for a brand they loved and felt passionate about rather than an organisation offering certain benefits, but both were important. Those searching for internships and apprenticeships were also more likely to be brand-led, perhaps as they are looking for a reputable organisation to put on their CV. 


4. Use video


Young people want video content, evidenced by their YouTube usage (69% spend at least 1-2 hours a day on the platform and 16% said 4 hours or more!). They particularly wanted to see interviews with current and previous employees, explaining what it was really like to work at the organisation and to bring the role to life. 


5. Make the ad visually appealing


Respondents were put off by “walls of text” and “carbon copy” ads. They wanted short, simple adverts with no jargon. Consider having the option to click for further information rather than including everything in the ad itself. 

Make the advert as visually appealing as you can and use images, bullet points, bold text and colour to make it stand out. Use an upbeat, informal tone (if this is appropriate to your brand). 


6. Make the process easy


Overwhelmingly, young people told us they just want the process to be simple and that applying for roles felt like a chore. Many were disheartened when they didn’t hear back from employers after taking time to apply for a role. 

Always respond to an applicant to thank them for applying – this will have huge benefits for your employer brand and will leave the door open in future. You can download our free, editable email rejection templates or check out our easy-to-use ATS, Talent Funnel, which automates the recruitment process and gives candidates a positive experience.


7. Be a caring employer


Above all, Generation Z is looking for an employer who cares about their employees. Work life balance topped the list of what young people look for. For females in STEM this was followed by flexible working hours, a competitive salary, the opportunity for further training and an employer who cares about mental wellbeing. 

Include staff wellbeing initiatives in your job advert along with training opportunities and any flexibility with hours and working patterns you offer. 


8. Use a range of media


In general, Instagram and YouTube were the most used platforms for this age group (women were more likely to spend longer each day on Instagram) followed by Facebook and Snapchat. Females studying STEM in our sample spent longer on Facebook (most said between 1-2 hours a day compared to less than an hour on Instagram). 

Females are significantly less likely to be searching for internships, so be open-minded about where you advertise and don’t limit yourself to internship-only sites. 

These are a few of the key findings on attracting women studying STEM subjects. If you’d like to see more of the overall research, read the webinar slides or watch the replay