Hiring women can lead to better sustainability

2 mins read

The United Nations conference on climate change, recently held in Paris, concluded with a modest level of optimism about our environmental future. However, current research suggests that there is actually a really straightforward way to ensure that matters of ecology and sustainability are more valued in modern business culture - encourage more women into careers in science and engineering.

Studies, conducted by the University of Oslo and other academic institutions, show that women generally tend to be more concerned with environmental and social issues than their male counterparts. Unfortunately, this caring perspective too often seems to be missing in the companies and laboratories where bright minds are thinking of solutions to the challenges now facing humankind. How can we afford to exclude half the global population from contributing to our science and engineering teams?

The way engineering departments currently talk about technology often leads girls to believe that the attributes they possess will not be compatible with jobs in this area. It is high time for this to change.

In Europe, there is a huge difference between how high school boys and girls respond when asked whether they would like to work in the technology sector. Hardly any of these countries manage to encourage more than 20% of their girls to get enthusiastic about tech-based careers.

Girls can help us tackle the big societal obstacles ahead, not because they are smarter, but because they tend to be more concerned about such issues. While boys are mainly interested in working with things, girls prefer working with people. As a result, girls often care more about nature and feel more strongly about preserving the environment. Teamwork is an area where women excel. Research has shown that inclusion of women leads to teams with higher 'collective intelligence'. The more advanced communicative skills in women simply make collaborative efforts more effective.

If we want technology to solve impending problems, it is clear that we need more women involved.In the coming years gender imbalance must be addressed. We must make it clear to girls that you can be a 'caring' professional in fields other than just medicine, social work, psychology or teaching.

Girls need to be exposed to female professional role models in engineering and technology. We shouldn't wait until high school to do this. By the age of 12, many pupils already have a fairly firm idea of which direction their studies will take them - whether it is concentrating on science, creative or humanities led subjects. The stats tell us that Europe has a lot to learn from youngsters in Asian economies. Not only are they more enthused about science and technology, but also there is a much smaller gender gap when it comes to believing in the positive societal impact of these disciplines.

At Melexis we are keen to show that technological progress and caring for other people (or the environment) are not mutually exclusive. Melexis is reaching out to all parts of the education system, from primary schools right through to universities. Our objective is to create more compelling experiences for students (both male and female), so that we establish the imaginative and technically competent teams needed to drive innovation forward for the good of people and planet.