Female graduates are less likely to apply for but more likely to land a graduate training scheme than their male peers, according to research from The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).
The Diversity and Inclusion report found that when women do apply they are more successful at getting job offers; though only 47% of female graduates apply to graduate schemes, female graduates represent nearly half (49%) of graduate scheme hires.
Women were consistently more successful in the selection process regardless of industry. For example, while only 27% and 25% of graduate scheme hires in IT and engineering firms respectively are female, these sectors are doing relatively well in terms of gender balance considering only 17% and 15% (respectively) of students studying these subjects are women.
Three-quarters (74%) of those employers surveyed by AGR had a diversity strategy in place and six in 10 (60%) of those said that gender diversity was a ‘high priority’.
Employers reported that student perceptions of their industry was one of the biggest challenges in attracting a more diverse workforce, with 29% placing it in one of their top three biggest challenges. The majority (83%) called for sector-wide investment to tackle the gender issue.
Stephen Isherwood, chief executive at AGR, said that despite investment to develop a more diverse graduate workforce, there remain considerable barriers. “Improving gender diversity is less about changing selection processes and is largely an attraction challenge,” he explained. “Many female students don’t apply for the top programmes when they should."
He added: “Graduate employers want to hire women, there are lots of opportunities out there and these candidates are more likely to succeed, so we need to address why they’re not applying. Industry-wide collaboration to tackle student perceptions will be a key step forward."
Isherwood suggested female candidates might not be applying due to lack of confidence. “We know women are hugely successful in the selection process, more so than men. We just need them to realise it,” he said. “We need to boost confidence and encourage more female graduates to reach their potential.”