In this article, the team at Heriot-Watt University cover some of the ways women can upskill in business to help close the gender gap:

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 15.16.56

Women who graduate from university step straight into the working world facing the gender pay gap, and the percentage of women at senior management and board levels is still nowhere near even in the UK.

But there are ways to bridge this gap, especially when it comes to helping women rise through the ranks within a business: upskilling. 

In this article, the team at Heriot-Watt University cover some of the ways women can upskill in business to help close the gender gap: 

Gender gaps start in early childhood and only increase as young girls grow up. From a young age, girls who show leadership traits are called bossy. They can be discouraged from pursuing traditionally “male” subjects at school and therefore further and higher education.

Women who graduate from university step straight into the gender pay gap. The percentage of women at senior management and board levels is still nowhere near even in the UK. 

But there are ways to bridge this gap, especially when it comes to helping women rise through the ranks within a business: upskilling.

Here, we cover some of the ways women can upskill in business to help close the gender gap.

Shadowing

Many workplaces will have more male managers than female – the House of Commons Women and the UK economy report showed that in 2021, 13% of men hold managerial positions compared to 8% of women. It’s therefore vital to give women looking to progress into these positions the opportunity to do so.

Shadowing senior members of staff can be a useful method of upskilling in the workplace. If an employee hasn’t been in a senior or managerial role previously, gaining an understanding of how the role works and the responsibilities attached is useful – especially if they’re seeking to rise through the ranks within that business.

A formal shadowing scheme in the workplace can help introduce ambitious women to managerial roles for the first time.

Secondments and apprenticeships

We know there are barriers to women entering leadership and STEM roles. If businesses have a specific skills gap in one function, it makes sense to fill it with existing employees who understand the business processes, goals, and inner workings.

Women who are looking to move into a different role could move into these roles with secondments and on-the-job training. This will be especially helpful if they have existing transferrable skills – natural time management skills can allow someone to transition into a project management role. A tech-savvy employee could excel in an IT role.

Often, the barriers to entering specific roles begin at school age, so it’s important to have opportunities to move into different careers at working age. Apprenticeships are another powerful tool that could be utilised to help someone make the switch between two seemingly disparate roles. As well as learning on the job, employees will have access to role-specific education and be able to earn while they learn.

Take an MBA

MBAs are one of the most powerful ways you can upskill to progress up the career ladder. These postgraduate qualifications are well-established as setting ambitious employees on the path to managerial careers, promotions, and a network of business contacts.

For those who are in full-time work and looking to further their career, a part-time course is the most suitable option. You can carry out digital leadership courses online while still gaining access to some of the best education around. Online courses mean you can fit it around your existing full-time job and study as you work.

With this globally respected qualification, you’ll be able to pursue more senior positions either within your organisation or at a new business. It’s also worth seeing if your business would be willing to fund your MBA – this is one of many funding options that MBA students worldwide use.

Research has shown that businesses can save almost £50,000 a head by upskilling employees instead of hiring new staff. Present this idea to your manager with the benefits to the business – you’ll be able to take on more responsibility, fill a much-needed senior role, or contribute to higher strategic goals.

Gender skill and pay gaps still exist. Upon graduating from university, young women are immediately faced with a pay disparity and face an uphill battle into managerial roles and jobs that may be different to what they’re currently doing. By focusing on upskilling, women can be given more career opportunities – and it’s a win for businesses that have skills gaps they need to fill.