Friday, December 14, 2012

A lightbulb moment for encouraging women to take science jobs

Thanks to Cisco, whose breakthrough this is. Cisco advertised for apprentices. Only men applied. Where many others have shrugged shoulders and recruited, Cisco did not. They readvertised. "The key point that worked for us was we removed any reference to Systems Engineers and Engineering, something that had previously been heavily embedded into our job specifications. Instead we reference technology, together with relationships and addressing peoples/businesses problems through that technology. This was also reinforced when I hosted the assessment day, when I focused on the people engagement and relationship elements, rather than engineering which still remain core to the role. This led to us hiring, on raw talent alone, 4 women and 2 men which is very different to the industry average." And this was not just tapping the tiny pool of qualified women either, but women who liked technology but had not considered a technical job, or even a technical education, before. One was a hairdresser. All four are flourishing, and have sailed through their first technical exams. I am immeasurably delighted by this. Let's see if we can turn the light on in schools too. The final ad, the one that had women applying in good numbers, was as below. ########################################### Technical Apprentice Programme Our Opportunity As an apprentice on this team you will get an opportunity to work with a variety of leading Cisco technologies, as well as interact with our valued customers and Cisco partners to develop the skills to become a trusted advisor adding a business and client relationship context to your role as the technical specialist on our Sales teams. Leveraging those relationships with Customers and Partners to develop technical solutions to their business needs. Primary Responsibilities • Develop and maintain technical understanding of Cisco’s solution sets, architecture and full product line • Develop an understanding of competitor solutions, products & services • Support our Account Teams with client meetings and presentations • Provide coordination, support and preparation for customer demonstrations and evaluations • Actively participate and consult with Virtual Teams to further technical projects and initiatives Professional Competencies • A methodical thinker with attention to detail, able to react creatively but rationally to customer requests • Persevering with a drive to constantly learn new things and always deliver the best solution to our customers, on time and as promised • Able to work under pressure and make decisions with a positive “can do” attitude • Open minded and passionate about new technologies, ideas and ways of working • Able to communicate technical detail and engage the customer and colleagues in a proposed solution • Motivated towards an engaging and fast paced career, with focus on personal development and learning • An active participator in a team environment, contributing to the success and achieving of the overall objective. Education and knowledge required • Fluent in English, written and verbal. • Must be able to live and work in the UK, without additional visa support or sponsorship.