Persistence could help reduce gender inequalities in engineering apprenticeships

8 March 2017

Only 25 per cent of women who unsuccessfully apply for an engineering apprenticeship apply again, new analysis by Learning and Work Institute reveals.

Research underway to understand why women are under-represented in STEM careers exposes differences in behaviour between men and women when applying for engineering apprenticeships.

Although more than half of all apprentices are women (52 per cent), this masks significant gender segregation, with women making up only 3.4 per cent of engineering apprenticeship starts in 2014/15. These inequalities in participation contribute to inequalities in pay.

In order to address this participation penalty, Learning and Work Institute is working in partnership with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation to better understand and tackle the gender imbalances in engineering apprenticeships.

Dr Fiona Aldridge, Assistant Director for Research and Development at Learning and Work Institute, said:

“Our analysis of apprenticeship application data shows that more women and girls have applied to do an engineering apprenticeship than previously thought. But while applications from women are just as likely to be successful as those from men, women submit far fewer applications in this sector – thereby giving themselves less chance of success. In contrast, men tend to be more persistent.

“The research suggests that if we are serious about increasing the number of women in engineering apprenticeships – then as well as inspiring more women and girls to apply in the first instance – we also need to explore what we can do to encourage unsuccessful female applicants to have another go”.

Jenni French, Programme Manager at Gatsby, added:

“Although women are under-represented in many STEM areas, it is particularly stark in engineering apprenticeships. Not only does this lead to inequalities in pay but this gender imbalance has significant implications for the supply of skills into the economy.”