Many companies talk about encouraging women into STEM careers, but what do they do about it? We look at the practical ways in which one engineering company makes women welcome.
Women aiming for STEM careers need to look past the rhetoric and check what companies actively do to support women and how it impacts employees.
Schneider Electric has embedded diversity and inclusion across their business, with active campaigns to boost female recruitment and internal targets to increase female representation at all levels. In Ireland, there is a particular focus on increasing female participation at early career levels, for instance on their graduate and apprenticeship programmes. It also offers the TU Dublin Schneider Electric Scholarship which aims to award and recognise two second year engineering students per year.
Internally, the company established an Employee Resource Group, named “The Potential of Women” in the UK & Ireland which sets out to build a trusted and safe community and serve as a resource for women’s professional and personal development.
But what does this mean in practice? Three women talk about how the policies have helped them.
Early career and scholarships
Junior Project Engineer, Schneider Electric
Meda Sigeikina, a student of electrical services and energy management at Dublin Institute of Technology, joined the TU Dublin Schneider Electric Scholarship, opening the door to a three-month internship. “I enjoyed the technical aspects, getting on sites and meeting customers, so I applied for six months work experience in year three, focussing on technical engineering,” says Meda, who went to a permanent job at Schneider Electric.
“The initial challenge was the prospect of entering a male-dominated field. But here, I am treated as well as the men. I knew I was just as capable and people treated me that way.”
Her advice to women who are seeking STEM careers is: “Be proactive. See what STEM jobs are like by work experience and internships. In five years’ time I want to be further up the career ladder here, while helping other women get into STEM roles. I know we can do it!”
As a working mother I appreciate the family policy that recognises the need for flexibility. Good work-life balance is part of the company culture.Adriana Gonzalez
Operational Channel Manager, Schneider Electric
Milena Lynch is an Operational Channel Manager, leading the design firm channel, aiming to form trusted advisor relationships with electrical, mechanical and consultancy firms. Milena analyses markets and creates strategy.
“We provide technical guidance and research, information about our services and training on our technology. We are technical influencers, providing help that may lead companies to choose Schneider Electric,” she says.
She transferred into her present role from technical sales, and recently completed a company-sponsored course in electrical services and energy management at TU Dublin. “It taught me more about how electrical technology can tackle climate change by improving buildings’ energy performance,” she says.
“We get access career development courses at all levels. I also like the fact that women on career breaks get support to maintain their skills and that pay equity is included in the annual salary reviews.”
Global family policy
Principal Software Engineer, Schneider Electric
Adriana Gonzalez is a Principal Software Engineer specialising in embedded software. She has been with Schneider Electrical for eight years, during which time she has taken maternity leave twice.
Adriana says: “I develop network management cards for three phase uninterruptible power supplies, for use in places like banks and data centres. We work on different projects, often with cutting-edge technology,”
“As a working mother I appreciate the family policy that recognises the need for flexibility. Good work-life balance is part of the company culture. You can work from home and generous leave entitlements mean you can take time off if a child is ill.
She appreciates her team’s diversity. “The software department has a good ratio of women to men and the company offers many technical career routes depending on your strengths and preferences.”
Diversity and inclusion policies are no longer a nice to have for businesses, they are the cornerstone of investment in our current and future workforce. In prioritising these initiatives, women in the STEM sector feel welcome and involved in the businesses and industry they work in.