Talent crisis: GE takes on gender equality in science and tech

This information provided by Smart Cities Council Compassionate Cities.

One article called GE's goal to fill 20,000 STEM roles at the company with women and obtain a 50:50 representation in all of its technical entry-level programs -- all by 2020 -- an "audacious plan." But if you look at the numbers, GE's move is an economic no-brainer with a social upside. – Liz Enbysk


There have been numerous programs in recent years to entice more women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). But the numbers don't reflect it for whatever reason. According to GE:

  • In the U.S. today, only 14% of all engineers and 25% of all IT professionals are women
  • Among the major tech giants, women fill just 13-24% of the tech-related jobs, and only 17-30% make it into senior leadership positions
  • Women make up 55% of all college and graduate students overall, yet only 18% of computer science graduates are female

Gender gap and living standards
Furthermore, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a strong negative correlation exists between a country’s gender gap and its living standards.

But look at the potential if that gender gap goes away:

  • Closing the gender gap could increase GDP by up to 10% by 2030, OECD estimates
  • One study found more gender diverse companies performed 53% better than lesser ones
  • MIT economists found that a gender shift could increase revenue by 41%

“Unless we bring more women into technology and manufacturing, there will be a significant negative economic impact on the sector," said GE Chief Economist Marco Annunziata. "This is a problem for business to actively address.”

The company released a white paper -- Engineering the Future: The Socio-Economic Case for Gender Equality – that addresses the talent crisis.

Not enough workers in the pipeline
GE expects its program will significantly increase the representation of women in its engineering, manufacturing, IT and product management roles.

It's been widely documented that there aren't enough skilled workers in the pipeline today – male or female -- to fill demand in the tech and engineering sectors. If more women are seen filling those roles it follows that more women will aspire to them and the desirable salaries they typically offer.

As part of the GE initiative, ad firm BBDO created a campaign celebrating female scientists and in particular Millie Dresselhaus, the first woman to win the National Medal of Science in Engineering.

“There are people out there -- Millie Dresselhaus is the one we’ve chosen to highlight -- who have done remarkable things and deserve admiration and adulation and holding up those women as role models is a really fun way to shine a light on what we’re calling balancing the equation and addressing what is this industry-wide challenge of getting more women in STEM," GE Chief Marketing Officer Linda Boff told AdWeek.

Here's a 60-second spot BBDO created.

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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