Maureen’s Matters - Doesn’t tell the whole story

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New statistics show that the gender pay gap has narrowed over the past year in Scotland.

There has been a drop of 1.8 percentage points in the gender pay gap according to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2015, with the figure for 2015 standing at 7.3 per cent.

But while these statistics should be welcomed, those of us who live and work in the North East know that this closing of the gender pay gap does not tell the whole story when it comes to the oil and gas industry. The proportion of women in the UK oil and gas industry is reported to be 23 per cent compared to a 47 per cent national average, which worsens when narrowed to offshore staff, with only 3.6 per cent represented.

The Oil and Gas Academy of Scotland has said that the UK forecast for 2022 demonstrates a need for 1.82 million new engineering, science and technology professionals (STEM). The only way that the UK can meet this target is if more women are qualified to fill these positions.

Only 7% of engineering professionals in this sector are females, and we have the lowest rates in the EU for female engineering professionals.

We need to focus on making the relevant careers as attractive to women as they are to men. It has been estimated that UK businesses could unblock a talent pipeline of 500,000 female middle managers – with the potential for an extra £5 billion to be made each year – if more women worked in the industry.

Universities worldwide are 60 per cent represented by females – but they do not tend to study STEM subjects and degrees. It is vital that companies have plans in place to recruit and attract more females, and to keep and promote them into senior roles once they are on board.

A diverse group of people in the workplace benefits everyone and this includes a gender balance. The gender pay gap should continue to narrow so that both men and women are recognised for the work that they do – but we need to get the women onto the playing field. Girls and women must broaden their horizons and those already in positions of power and influence must recognise their potential.