Women and Technology
Posted On: Thursday, July 14, 2016
Studies have shown that females are leading the adoption of technology; yet only make up 30% of the technology workforce . Companies like Etsy have made substantial efforts to increase the number of women technologists to better meet the needs of their predominantly female target market. Yet there are benefits that all companies can obtain by adding females to their workforce:
- The Anita Borg Institute has found that companies who rank in the top 25% for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
- A NCWIT analysis conducted in 2012,regarding women’s participation in IT patents, found that U.S. patents produced by mixed-gender teammates were cited 30%-40% more than other patents.
- Not surprisingly, Gallup has found that companies with diverse teams have a 22% lower turnover rate. Additionally, organizations who have a more diverse culture and employees have better recruiting results.
Most companies are aware of these benefits, and are implementing strategies in hopes of creating more gender-diverse teams. Yet, it is much harder for well established technology based companies to begin to attract female technology talent due to the deeply rooted male values and practices that have become part of core culture. Here is a step by step guide created from Mindcircuit’s research on how to better attract, retain, and retain female tech-talent.
1. How to find it: Have your employees attend events that encourage and support female advancement in stem positions.
- Visit Women and Technology Social Platforms: There are many websites that encourage female growth in IT and are places for women to come together and talk about their experiences as a tech professional. Examples of these forums are codelikeagirl.com and Everywomen.com. These websites are filled with highly qualified female tech talent that have a passion for IT. They even have areas where companies can pay a small fee to advertise their open positions. Attending events held by these organizations is a great way to network with and find diverse tech talent.
- Sponsor Young Women’s Advancement in Technology: Sponsor scholarships, host training camps, donate to Girls Who Code. Get your company’s name out there and show women that you care about their future in technology. Great technologists do not appear out of nowhere, they have to be trained and educated. Begin a mission to foster talent and make an impression on these girls at a young age.
2. How to get women interested in your company (recruiting process):
- Job Description: Since IT is a male dominated field, company’s job descriptions are often skewed to appeal more to men; ( this may have happened completely subconsciously). Higher-ups in the company are usually the ones writing these job descriptions, and they are predominantly male. Naturally they are utilizing vocabulary that would appeal to them. They may use aggressive language and titles like “Ninja Coder” that might discourage women candidates from applying. Aim to make make your company more female friendly by working on a more inviting job description. To ensure that your job description is inclusive to both genders, review it and emphasize certain details in the description that would be appealing to women. Another technique is to have a person of both genders review the description before making it available to the public.
Karen Schoellkopf, author of the article, “Hire more women in Tech” gives a great example of how to gender neutralize your language when trying to recruit.
Re-evaluate Your job descriptions.
Engineer company description:
Average= We are a dominant engineering firm that boasts many leading clients. We are determined to stand apart from the competition.
Better= We are a community of engineers who have effective relationships with many satisfied clients. We are committed to understanding the engineer sector intimately.
While language is important, it is vital to keep true to your company. So if your company is competitive in nature, make sure to keep it in the job description. Schoellkopf also provided a list of resources in her article that aim to reduce gender biases in professional writing:
- Making job listings that don’t alienate.
- How Changing One Word In Job Descriptions Can Lead To More Diverse Candidates
- Defining what diversity means to your company,
- Laurie Voss article great guidelines about writing job posts for diversity and she created a open source repo of former job descriptions.
- Textio is a platform that aids in “spell checking” for unconscious bias.
3. Interview Process
- Have a Woman Interviewer: It can be alienating for a woman to go through an interview process and not speak to a single woman. Aim to have every candidate be interviewed by an employee of each sex. Women are much more inclined to work for companies that have other women employees. Many women do not want to be the “guinea pig” in a company’s gender diversity program. By seeing possible female co-workers increases the interviewee’s confidence in the the company’s ability to properly treat and value women in the workplace.
- Laying out the possibility for advancement: Women technologists are very serious about their jobs. Many women fear the glass-ceiling, which is a sociology term that means an unofficial barrier that prevents women and minorities from reaching top positions in their career due to biases. Equal Employment Opportunity Employers should disminish these fears by laying out a step by step career path during the interview process. This assures the female candidate that advancement is personally attainable for her, thereby leaving them with a favorable impression of your company.
4. How to retain female employees: make sure your employees and managers are friendly and respect your female workers, ensure your work environment is inclusive.
- Embrace family lifestyle: Do not penalize women for having children and be understanding of family emergencies. There is unfortunately a common gender bias in the United States work culture called the “Mommy Penalty” which stereotypes female employees at childbearing years as a liability. They are seen as less dedicated to their jobs and scatter brained because of their children or their attempt to have children. This makes these professionals less likely to receive a promotion and more likely to be pushed out of the company. This is especially unfair to female employees in these age groups who do not want to have children. Instead of placing these unwarranted biases, a company could aim to prevent this from happening in the first place by either giving parents the ability to work remotely for a time period after pregnancy. Another way to embrace a family lifestyle is to host family friendly events at the workplace. For example; think about hosting a kid friendly halloween party that everyone will enjoy.
- Daycare: Provide daycare services through your company to make it easy for women to work at your organization. If women have easy access to daycare and know their children are in good hands, they will be more focused and inclined to work longer hours.
- Company culture: Slightly adjusting your company’s culture may be necessary for retaining top female technologists. Many startups are formed by men, and thus the company’s culture is designed by men and caters to their wants. Subconsciously this male dominated culture may be telling women that they are not welcome in this environment. To prevent this, shy away from your company’s office looking like a twenty something man’s first apartment. Women may not be as intrigued as men by unlimited candy and beer or a Wii in the break room. Ask current female employees what would appeal to them, and make an effort to cater to both sides of the gender spectrum.
- Mentorship programs: Female mentorship programs are becoming a successful trend that companies are implementing to retain and advance women in their workforce. Companies can pair tech leaders (male or female) with a group of entry-level female workers. During these meetups, women create relationships with upper-level management and ask them for advice. Some IT companies have even taken this approach a step further and set up coding challenges for these women to tackle. The mentor guides them through the challenge and sees first hand their skills. Ideas like this allow management to get a better understanding of their ability for upward mobility within the company.
Make Gender-Diversity a Goal
The more inclusive your company is, the more people that will want to apply for your positions. This will give your recruiters a better opportunity to find the most highly qualified candidates for the job. By encouraging women to seek opportunities at your company, and making diversity a goal will only strengthen your organization. The more women that apply the better chance of your recruiters finding female candidates who are just as qualified, or even more qualified, than the male ones. Choose the best candidate for the position regardless of gender, but at least make it possible for women to get in the running. When you do you may be surprised who ends up on top.
Porter, Jane. “What It Really Takes To Recruit More Female Tech Talent.” Fast Company. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2016.
Stillman, Jessica. “5 Tips to Hire Rock-Star Female Tech Talent.” Inc.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2016.
“5 Tips for Recruiting Top Female Tech Talent.” Recruitment & Staffing Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2016.
“How to Recruit Top Female Tech Talent.” – Innovation Insights. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2016.
Hiring Tech Talent.” Medium. N.p., 12 Apr. 2016. Web. 12 July 2016.
“Hire More Women In Tech.” Hire More Women In Tech. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2016
“How Silicon Valley Can Keep Its Best Female Tech Talent.” Silicon Valley Business Journal. N.p., 25 Sept. 2013. Web. 12 July 2016.
Sam is receiving her BBA in Marketing, from the Isenberg School of Business at UMass Amherst. She started as an agency recruiter for Mindcircuit in 2014 and transitioned to a content writer for the business in 2016. Feel free to reach out to her by email, or connect with her on LinkedIn.
Amanda is receiving her BA in public relations, from the S.I. Newhouse School of public communications at Syracuse University. She started as a business development specialist in 2014 and transitioned as a content writer in 2016. Feel free to reach out to her by email and LinkedIn.