So says Karen Daly-Gherabi, Managing Director of The Springboard Consultancy (SBC), a UK-based international training company specialising in women's development issues.
Recent research from The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) reveals that female graduates in the UK are less likely to apply for - but are more likely to land - a place on a graduate training scheme than their male peers. The AGR’s recently published Diversity and Inclusion Survey found that, although only 47 percent of female graduates apply to graduate schemes, female graduates represent some 49 percent of graduate scheme hires.
While over half of all industry sectors reported increases in their gender diversity year-on-year, employers reported that student perceptions of their industry was one of the biggest challenges in attracting a more diverse workforce.
According to AGR’s CEO, Stephen Isherwood, “Many female students don’t apply for the top programmes when they should. There are opportunities out there and these candidates are more likely to succeed - so we need to address why they’re not applying.
“Women are hugely successful in the selection process. We just need them to realise it,” he said. “We need to boost confidence and encourage more female graduates to reach their potential.”
Karen Daly-Gherabi, of SBC, said, “Boosting confidence and enabling female undergraduates and graduates to reach their potential are just two of the key aspects of the Sprint programme. Designed – in 2013 - to tackle study, career and personal development issues for undergraduate women, Sprint has been built on work carried out with the University of Cambridge and further developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford.”
So far, over 70% of Sprint participants say they’re now more assertive – and are better at setting realistic goals and action points, managing their time and working more productively.
Professor Peter Lambert, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Learning and Teaching at the University of Bath, said that, having experienced the Sprint programme, “Students will have gained self-confidence and self-belief – above all, belief in their skills, their abilities and their future career.”
Currently, some 22 UK universities run Sprint programmes for their female students – and corporate sponsors of these programmes include RBS; Enterprise rent a car; M & G; Ernst and Young; Shell; BP; AXA Insurance; Barclays; Arup; Morgan Stanley; Microsoft; IBM; Blackstone; Oliver Wyman; TD Security; Deloittes; Capita; Alphasights; Improbable; Mott Macdonald; Shoosmiths, and Saint-Gobain.
Georgina Pullen, Senior Training Consultant at SBC, said, “The Sprint programme grew from research showing the large pay gap between men and women after graduating from Oxford University, even though they hold the same class degrees in the same subjects. A similar survey, by the Higher Education Careers Unit, measuring the earnings of 17,000 recent graduates, discovered that 70% of women graduates were earning less than £24,000, compared with 55% of men - even in subject areas where women’s participation was greater than men’s, such as law.”
Ten key issues covered in the Sprint programme are:
- Participants’ personal power and influence
- Identifying participants’ values and attitudes
- Dealing with change and stress
- Participants’ vision and direction
- How politics works inside organisations
- Managing time effectively
- Using assertiveness positively
- Networking and building contacts
- Planning for the future and setting ambitious goals
- How to ‘put yourself across’ positively and be memorable, especially in job applications and interviews