Even though some progress has been made, the remarkably low number of women in tech jobs, especially in leadership roles, continues to hold the industry back. With our focus on emerging platforms as well as tech industries, AC Lion recruiters actively tries to combat these statistics. Solutions are not easy, nor are they immediate. Still, we owe it to our candidates and clients alike to offer creative approaches to the problem.
As of January 2015, women held only 30% of Google’s jobs, and only 18% of Google’s technical employees, up just one percentage point from 2014. Google, well-aware that this needs to be changed, has vowed to make more efforts to hire more women. But this isn’t just a Google problem. Outside of Google, Wired reported that only “11% of all engineers in the U.S. are women.”
Ann Friedman wrote cleverly about the issue in The Washington Post
“The tech industry may have a problem with women, but women don’t have a problem with technology.”
How do we, as recruiters, bring women into the tech space? Here are some tips.
Make Hiring Women a Priority
Alexis Maybank, founder of and strategic adviser to Gilt Group, says,
“Corporations can prioritize the hiring of more women in their recruiting and outreach efforts.”
As recruiters, we can suggest to our clients how to shore up their weaknesses, especially if they lack women in their technology and engineering sectors.
Get Involved with Women’s Tech Groups: Networking
We are huge fans of networking and have participated with Women in Wireless, a non-profit group promoting women in mobile and digital media. AC Lion recruiters have spoken on such topics as “Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed,” a webinar on negotiating jobs and upward mobility, about women building companies in the NYC startup scene, and how those companies are appealing to female customers.
According to the Washington Post,
“… there’s a huge network of women in tech, and they’re working together to transform the industry — and each other’s careers.”
We can expand our net in finding outstanding candidates by getting more involved with organizations that have sprung up like Girls Who Code, Women Who Code, Black Female Coders and Latinas in Computing.
Reconsider Your Interview Process – Will Your Female Candidate be the Only Woman at the Table?
Consider the interview process. “People won’t want to come to a place where they are, say, the only…female on the team,” reminds Jane Chwick, a retired partner of Goldman Sachs and former co–chief operating officer of the technology division.
Also consider if your female tech candidate will be interviewed by a man at your own agency. ThoughtWorks, a Chicago-based tech consulting firm, tries to ensure at least one female interviewer is included in the interview process. This conscious choice helps you and your team make a better conclusive decision about a candidate, by getting more unique viewpoints on the table, which leads to my next point.
Combat Unconscious Bias in Hiring
According to Scientific American, research from Yale on scientists presented with application materials for a lab manager position showed that given the same application, half showing male names and half showing female names, scientists rated the female applicants significantly lower than males in competence levels and on whether they’d hire them.
ThoughtWorks combats the unconscious biases that lead interviewers to hire someone who looks like themselves by having interviewers reflect on prejudices that may have crept into their assessments. This aspect proved key in increasing the numbers of women hired over the last five years.
Reexamine Your Company’s Culture
Many job seekers check out a prospective employer on Glassdoor, Indeed, Wikipedia, etc. before the interview. What do your company’s pictures and job listings reflect about your culture? Is it the stereotypical Silicon Valley bro-centered startup? STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields have a problem with their culture, and the onus is on the people in power, not the women trying to break barriers, to change it.
It’s possible that those well-written job listings might actually include words that show a company’s culture as unwelcoming and male-dominated. A female candidate will surely be less likely to pursue a position at your company if she feels that she is unwelcome. Make sure that your company’s culture is one that is known for being welcoming to women, both internally and externally.
Gender Diversity Helps You with Your Clients, Too
Diversity in the workplace is not just a do-gooder idea, but has business benefits. It helps bring other viewpoints and ideas to the table regarding market insights, problem-solving, and networking. Companies cannot afford to ignore 50% of the potential customers out there. That’s a lot of revenue left on the table.
Advocate for More Women
“Being an advocate means…(you) advocate for (women) to move into roles or be exposed to… jobs that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to or known about,”
said Jamie Miller, senior vice president and chief executive officer of GE Transportation. Being an advocate requires very little, only asking that you recognize where your company, and the industry as a whole, is failing, target areas that need changing, and diversify your company. It’s time for the tech industry to recruit more women. We can do it!