in Defence

MBDA partners with STEM Returners to drive defence sector gender equality

Posted 29 January 2024

MBDA is stepping up its commitment to improving gender imbalances across the defence sector, by launching a new programme to help professionals on a career break return to work.

Image courtesy MBDA

MBDA will work with STEM Returners to support 10 professionals into its Operations & Engineering functions, in locations such as Bolton, Bristol and Stevenage.

The programme is part of MBDA’s drive to achieve 30% female representation by 2030 and as 46% of STEM Returners pool of professionals are female, the partnership is confident it can enhance female representation. However, all STEM Returners programmes are open to all genders, ages and backgrounds.

STEM Returners will source the candidates, who must be eligible for security clearance, UK national or dual national, and provide additional mentoring and career advice.

Annual research from STEM Returners (The STEM Returners Index) shows the challenges people face when trying to return to work following a career break, with recruitment bias shown to be the main barrier to entry. It also shows women trying to return to industry are more likely to experience recruitment bias than men.

STEM Returners’ programmes aim to eliminate these barriers by giving candidates real work experience and mentoring during their placement, as well as supporting them to seamlessly adjust to life back in work.

Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners said: “We are delighted to be working with MBDA, who share in our commitment to increase equity in STEM and improve the way people who are on a career break return to work.

“There is a misconception that a career break leads to a deterioration of skills but that could not be further from the truth. Only by working together, will we make vital changes in recruitment practices, to help those who are finding it challenging to return to the sector and bridge the gender gap.”

Matt Beaumont, Director of Mechanical Engineering and the sponsor of GEN-EQ, MBDA’s gender balance network, said: "We are pleased to be working with STEM Returners and to be part of driving change to improve the return to work for the highly skilled people our industry needs.

"People who take a break from their STEM career will have invested time and effort in gaining their skills and experience. As a company with engineering at its heart, it's our responsibility to provide a professional, inclusive and supportive workplace where they can continue their careers and be valued."

Liz, who returned to work at MBDA after a five-year career break, said: “When I returned after my career break, MBDA understood my childcare needs and I was offered a reduced hours contract in acknowledgment of my personal circumstances. I joined a team of helpful and enthusiastic individuals who, very quickly, made me feel accepted, included and technically respected. Since then, my career has gone from strength to strength and I’m grateful to MBDA for recognising and celebrating the skills I bring to the workplace.”

Since STEM Returners first launched in 2017, more than 450 STEM Returners candidates have joined programmes across the UK.

To view STEM Returners’ opportunities:




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