The topic of women in the workplace is one that is particularly important to headhunters. Increasingly we are called upon by our clients to fill the existing gap in numbers within their organizations, by searching for female talent in Italy and around the world.

The data are positive and the growing trend of female employees in companies is increasing significantly. Manageritalia declares that, in 2021, female executives led the growth of the number of employed executives by 5% at the national level. Another interesting statistic is the one declared by the AlmaLaurea Interuniversity Consortium, which states that 60% of graduates are women and, among other things, have a better performance by graduating with a higher grade.

The lower female employment rate

On the other hand, it leaves us perplexed that a much lower rate of women is employed 5 years after graduation (86% compared to 92.4% of men for a first-level degree and 85.2% compared to 91.2% for a second-level degree). Wondering whether this aspect stems from a spontaneous choice or not is legitimate but difficult to analyze. Certainly, the difficulty of managing a family and a demanding work role at the same time is a cause of concern. Any economic or practical support to make it easier to manage children and the elderly in the family would be a valid help in raising the employment rate of women and making their lives easier.

The formation of a salary gap

Another fact that should make us think is that women earn about 20% less than their male colleagues with the same role and experience. Rationally, this figure would not make any sense. Our client companies, during the first insertion phase for a given role, evaluate men and women indiscriminately, proposing the same basic salary. It is therefore during the professional growth path that the salary gap is created. Often it is still the interruptions linked to pregnancies that block a woman’s economic growth and career steps. In other cases, however, it is still some stereotypes that drive this figure.

The benefit of hiring women in a male-dominated world

It’s too bad because women, often, have great drive. Women who want to make a career must show great determination and have broad shoulders, to stand out in a world that is ran by men predominantly.

On the other hand, the benefits of having women on the team are enormous. Besides offering balance and a different view of approach, most of them bring strong skills in multitasking, problem-solving, and creativity. In general, diversity in a team brings positive contamination and fertilizes the company with a new vision.

Women in STEM

Another issue that needs to be addressed in order to understand the reason for this numerical and salary gap is the figure for professionals working in STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

In fact, innovations in STEM play a central role in addressing the global challenges of today and the future. Climate change, the health emergency, access to energy, identification of renewable sources, and research development are all issues that require professionals trained in STEM disciplines.

Currently, only 35% of those enrolled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) faculties are women worldwide.

In Italy, although there are more women graduates than men, and if we consider only STEM subjects, the numbers are still alarming: out of 100 women graduates, only 16 have a degree in STEM disciplines, compared to 35 men (Istat, 2021).

We, headhunters, are increasingly called upon by companies to look for female figures to work in engineering and operations functions that are mainly the prerogative of men. In fact, we have to find the needle in the haystack.

Not there yet, devote special attention to women

In conclusion, we can say that, with respect to the issue of women at work, we are advancing, and there are some encouraging data. However, the hope is to find a greater acceleration that brings us closer, in terms of female employment, to the European averages. While on the other hand, no EU member State has achieved equality between men and women in the world of work in terms of numbers, salaries, assistance, and pensions yet. This aspect has also been underlined by the European Commission in its communication on the strategy for gender equality 2020-2025.

In order to bridge this gap, the PNRR has implemented the proposal of the European Commission, to devote special attention to women, and promote female employment as a cross-cutting priority. The Issue is to be considered one of the pillars of the recovery of our country.