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You can’t keep a woman down

TARGETjobs data shows that female graduates are seeking to level the STEM playing field

28 / 11 / 2019Fiona Doherty

‘Men and women are different. Girls like pretty pink baby dolls, hair, make-up and cooking; men prefer big blue fast cars, fighting and building things.’ These are all stereotypes that, as a society, we have started to outgrow and will hopefully soon leave in the past – but why have we yet to see the same progress in the jobs market? It is generally understood that sectors such as construction, engineering and technology are still largely male-dominated, but are times changing?

The inaugural TARGETjobs Graduate Insights report analysed the composition of our membership (that is, the students and graduates who are registered on site). Its findings indicate that there is strong interest in these sectors from female students. *

The report showed that, as a percentage, more of our female membership are interested in STEM-related fields than there are women working in those professions as a whole, according to the Office of National Statistics’ June 2018 ‘employment by occupation’ data report. 

For the construction and building services professions, currently only 4% of this industry is comprised of female workers according to the ONS statistics, but 38% of our members interested in hearing about opportunities in the sector are female. Again, in civil and structural engineering, only 1% consists of employed female workers, but 31% of our female members are interested in the sector.

Could this strong interest from female students be a positive sign of future change when it comes to addressing gender imbalance in early careers recruitment in these industries?

While on the surface the level of interest from female members is a cause for celebration, it’s also undeniable that ‘female’ interest in STEM jobs is lower than that of their male counterparts. In fact, what our Graduate Insight reports indicates is that forward-thinking employers need to continue their efforts to encourage women into these professions and then to retain them.  

When we directly compare the percentages of students identifying as male or female, we find that interest in these sectors still divide along traditional lines. For example, a greater number of students who identify as male are interested in IT and technology, investment banking and financial services. More students identifying as female, meanwhile, are interested in public services, charity and social work, teaching and education, HR and recruitment, and healthcare.

The Graduate Insights report clearly shows that, while there are welcome signs that female graduates are interested in entering male-dominated STEM professions, there is still a long way to go to address gender imbalances in the workplace.

With our targeted advertising, targeted emails, and TARGETjobs events, we are in a fantastic position to help employers reach out to female students and graduates interested in your sector. Contact our sales team at or call 01491 826262 to find out more.


* When students register on-site, they are asked to identify their gender as ‘female’ ‘male’, ‘prefer not to say’ or ‘prefer to use their own term’.

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