Despite the existence of the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 which protects men and women from discrimination on the grounds of sex or marital status, gender bias still occurs. Candidates that want to get what they deserve, regardless of their sex, can ensure they are picked because they are the right person for the job and not because of whether they are male, female or non-binary, by taking the following steps:
Remove gender identification from your application: Consider putting your initials on your CV and application rather than your first name which may denote your sex. Filter out any references to your gender in the content of the application. If you are female and have taken maternity leave don’t feel obliged to explain that in your CV. Your continuity of employment still stands whether you have had authorised parental leave or not. Many of the larger businesses will use a recruitment software programme to filter out unsuitable candidates so many reputable employers will have ensured their process is free from gender bias at the early stages anyhow.
Know your worth and apply: Data shows that many women hesitate and stop themselves from applying for jobs because they’re suffering from ‘imposter syndrome’. Sometimes this is due to them having taken time out to have a family. Women in the sector can ensure their career is not haltered by keeping their continuous professional development up to date even when on leave. Keeping in touch with colleagues and other key stakeholders is a good way of understanding latest trends in the industry. Remember - if you don’t apply you can’t be selected! Failure or rejection can be hard but not taking the leap and trying, means you aren’t even in the starting blocks.
Research employers: Employer brands are a great indicator of their attitude towards fair recruitment, diversity policies and the way men, women and non-binary professionals are viewed in the sector. The environmental sector is traditionally male dominated but many are striving to recruit more female talent particularly at the grass roots where far fewer women are choosing to train in the subject areas of science, technology, engineering and maths then men. A lot can be learnt from following a company on social media and understanding what it’s like to work there.
Ask for feedback: If you are facing a ‘no’ too many times you need to understand why. Ask the recruiter for specific feedback and if any of that relates to your gender it should be reported. Your childcare commitments should not be questioned or part of the selection process. Be confident and continue to expand your knowledge, expertise, and experience – these are the areas that you should be selected upon. Acting upon feedback is a really important step in ensuring that you can make the right moves forward to landing the job at the next hurdle.
Gender should not be a point of difference when it comes to who lands the job, yet bias can and does creep in. Knowing how to ensure you are selected for your talents and not your sexual identity is a positive way of eliminating discrimination. The environmental sector is male dominated but this does not mean you cannot carve a successful career within it and shine as bright as your male colleagues. Being respected for your work and being recruited for your talents should be the benchmark of a strong employer brand in 2023.