Gender equality and diversity discourses: The case of women in the science, engineering and technology (SET) employment in Europe , Southampton, UK University of Southampton
(Discussion Papers in Management).
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The importance of inclusion of women in the SET sector has been recognised as critical to the economic and social development of the European Union member states. Despite the growing contribution of women to the economy, their career progress in SET has been slow and incremental (Conyon and Mallin, 1997; Singh and Vinnicombe, 2003; Adams and Flynn, 2005; Chell et al., 2007). Recent research has moved attention from increasing supply of women in SET sectors to the impact of SET cultures including institutional structures and systems, which disadvantage women, such as the recruitment, promotion and employment procedures, and prevalence of ‘old boys’ networks (ETAN Report, 2000; SET Fair Report, 2002; DTI, 2003; Wynarczyk and Renner, 2006; Powell et al., 2006; Wynarczyk, 2007; Sappleton and Takruri-Rizk, 2008). Changing the culture and destroying the stereotypes of both men and women in SET are both very crucial and difficult. It could be a very powerful intervention to raise awareness and understanding of men and women about such issues and become able to leverage that in order for the change to take place. This awareness raising has been the thrust of the main argument in terms of gender studies throughout the 1990s.
The aim of this paper is to examine equality and diversity discourses pertaining to women’s participation in the SET workforce, and their career enhancement. The overall research question is as follows: What is the nature and extent of the equality and diversity interventions in order to advance women’s representation in the SET across Europe? More specifically, to what extent, and how do the awareness raising process and concomitant changes unfold as a part of gender equality and diversity discourses for the SET sectors? To address these questions, women’s participation in the SET workforce is analyzed through previous literature and recent statistics at the EU level. The cultural characteristics of SET sectors are discussed with an objective to highlight the significance of a cultural change as a major transformation for achieving gender equality and diversity in this area. Finally, gender equality and diversity interventions in SET are presented with a focus on the limitations
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