Nearly a third (30%) of young women do not get feedback after a job interview, compared to less than a fifth (18%) of male applicants, according to research from the City & Guilds Group and Business in the Community (BITC).
The survey of 4,000 18- to 24-year-olds found that young women generally found the experience of applying for a job more difficult, with a third (34%) saying it was difficult versus just a quarter of men (26%). Of those who found the application process difficult, young women were more likely to say it knocked their confidence (49% vs 37% of men). Nearly three-quarters (73%) said it affected them generally.
When feedback was given, only 37% of young women said it was good, compared to 45% of young men. NEETS (people not in education, employment or training) were also found to be further disadvantaged in the recruitment process, with 40% not getting any feedback, compared to 29% of all young people.
Mikki Draggoo, corporate relations director of the City & Guilds Group, said the research shows that the gender gap exists even at the start of women’s careers. “And that isn’t just harming young women – it affects businesses too,” she said. “Employers could be missing out on talented women without even realising it, which is why they need to examine their recruitment practices and make sure they are inclusive. That kind of transparency will yield better talent for businesses – essential in our climate of slow growth and stagnant productivity. Employers can’t afford to lose talented employees before they even start their careers.”
Amy King, head of consulting at the Chemistry Group, said that despite awareness and progress over the past few decades the research indicates recruitment is still biased. “It's shocking and disappointing to hear of statistics in 2016 that present a bleak reality of women lacking equality in the workplace, especially so early on in their careers,” she said. “Organisations that look past gender by objectively defining 'what great looks like' specific to their roles, and build processes to recruit and nurture talent against this are best placed to combat this issue. All of a sudden gender becomes irrelevant.”
Grace Mehanna, director of talent and skills at BITC, offered advice to firms. “We recognise that it’s hard for employers with a high volume of applicants to provide individual feedback, but we would urge them to take a staged approach,” she said. “For candidates who aren’t shortlisted you can offer collective general feedback such as ‘top tips for applying’, alongside more tailored feedback for those who make it to interview.”