Why are we still talking about this?

11 February 2020

On International Women and Girls in Science Day, Leonardo’s Director of Skills and Capability, Lynda McVay, says that addressing equality and gender balance is not only morally correct, but will also have a positive impact on overcoming the serious skills shortage in science and engineering.

I am constantly impressed by the drive and tenacity of both male and female colleagues to improve the balance of women to men in Leonardo and in the wider aerospace and defence sectors. Many senior women in Leonardo put in enormous efforts to share their success in our industry with the next generation and we punch above our weight in influence externally.

Our graduates and apprentices do fantastic work in engaging with young people through schools, colleges, universities and other routes to showcase the breadth of work we do and the exciting opportunities open to everyone. However, it saddens me that there is still a dearth of girls who study towards a science, engineering and technology career, and this pipeline has shown little improvement over the years.

In these times of major skills shortages, we cannot afford to miss out on any potential talent, Now, more than ever, we must fully embrace equality and improve our gender balance.

Research indicates that gender-diverse teams perform better at problem-solving, decision-making and team dynamics, while there is also a positive impact on innovation and productivity. Leonardo welcomes people from all backgrounds to join us and to thrive, and we have made significant steps forward in giving a voice to all sectors of our workforce with the launch of several network groups. However, at 50% of the population, the need to attract girls and women is irrefutable, be it a moral or business case.

Many successful women will tell you that they have had to shout louder to level the playing field. Women who do not relish this, however, will simply choose to work elsewhere. As a business and as an industry, we must increase our appeal to women and girls, as it is in everyone’s interests to bring talent into our industry and to provide an environment where everyone can perform to the best of their capabilities.

This is not new and it is my hope that one day this conversation will not be necessary.