Gender Diversity In Tech – Why Do Some Companies Have Difficulty Finding Women For Technology Jobs?
An interesting conversation on Twitter started this weekend about gender diversity in technology. It started with a photo of a software company celebrating an achievement but there were only men in the picture. I do not want to take anything away from the company’s achievement, but, based on the photo, it prompted a few replies about diversity. This fed into a further discussion on how a different company recognizes diversity is important, but, they are having difficulty in finding resumes from women for technology jobs. For those of you that know me, women in technology is a subject that I am very passionate about. My response was that maybe they should take a step back and look at their recruiting process, as women are not hiding.
I was curious about this, so, I took this question to a Women In Tech group where I am a member. Within 5 minutes, I had multiple responses. I described it back on Twitter as “Releasing the Kraken”.
Here are some of the responses:
“Much like any diversity recruiting, you have to go out of your way to bring in a mix of candidates. Reach out to professional organizations that cater to women, ask female colleagues to spread the word, etc. Set a goal to bring in X # of QUALIFIED female candidates before making hiring decisions (the X depends on the position and the number of overall candidates).
I should add that I think people think that hiring around diversity means choosing potentially less quality candidates just to get diversity. But it’s about recruiting around diversity so you’re bringing in diverse candidates who are equally qualified in the first place. And then, of course, you have to make sure your corporate culture is friendly so that you don’t have a retention issue.”
“For some data on recruiting, retaining and advancing a diverse workforce check here:”
Recruiting a Diverse Workforce
“One of my favorite diversity sourcing tips and tricks articles for any recruiters out there is”
Diversity Sourcing: Boolean Search Strings for LinkedIn
“Tell him to check out Textio – it not only helps improve job descriptions to weed out gender bias but also just makes them better overall”
A slide From Disrupting the Startup Brogrammer Culture:
Some additional resources that were also provided from the Women Who Tech group:
Women Who Tech http://womenwhotech.com/
If companies are truly serious about improving gender diversity in tech, they need to take a look at their current hiring processes. If they are having trouble finding qualified female candidates, their current way of recruiting is obviously not working.
There are incredible women in technology out there, you just may need to change your way of thinking about how to get them to not only apply for the job, get the job, but, KEEP them in the job.
Great read, Karin, thank you. Sharing those practical tips can make a huge difference.
Hi Karin, Neptune is the culprit you are referring to. It was the annual kickoff and I agree that we do not come across as the most diverse group in this picture :-/
All of the people here are people that approached us and not the result of active recruitment. I can personally guarantee that we are hiring talent no matter the gender. The best boss I have had in my entire career was female (Jannicke from PwC)
On a more uplifting note I found this picture of a current Neptune project in Italy where our partner TechEdge has some killer female Neptune devs:
Better I do not talk about Italian real situation for female workers, even in roles and realities like IT 😐
That's probably part of the problem - as women have been told for generations, approaching someone is not a lady-like behavior. 🙂 Takes a while to shake off some dogmas.
Companies usually seek the 'right' kind of diversity, which costs them less, or makes them look good in public and does not change the current state of things.
The way I see it, gender is relevant for job roles, such as airport security (legal regulations), but tech jobs are about knowledge, skills and applying logical principles.
I have worked with male and female developers and the main differences were a result of the person's previous experience and for which companies he/she has worked so far (following coding standards).
Diversity (in my definition) is hiring people with different backgrounds and skill sets. The whole idea that my gender has an impact on my logical thinking and my ability to learn things is, at best - ridiculous, at worst - insulting.
Artificially applying gender quotas for roles is not going to solve the problems with people being biased, it would make the situation worse.
If a company really wishes to look good in public, it should avoid using 'gender' and 'diversity' in the same sentence.
Just my 2 cents.
Excellent post, Karin.
I found this very interesting podcast from Freakonomics radio that is exploring ideas on how to rethink your recruiting process to balance the gender ratio.
The True Story of the Gender Pay Gap - Freakonomics Freakonomics
Hope this contributes to the discussion.
I like the slide on "gendered wording", there might be something to it. Looking some years back, one company I worked for that had rather "masculine" culture also had rather aggressive verbiage in their job ads. But when I was looking for the next job, what attracted me was a description of environment that seemed more cooperative (and it indeed turned out to be one of the greatest teams I've ever had). Certainly I did not look at the ads thinking where would I better fit in as a "lady programmer", but I guess there was some subliminal message.
Also maybe women are just smarter and do more research when they look for the jobs? The employers seem to underestimate how much information can be easily found online or through LinkedIn connections. This especially applies to the SAP world, which is relatively small.
Brilliant and bold: I love that both of you, Karin and Njal, are courageously stepping into the right questions.
Although I'm about to head to the Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco where over half of the speakers are typically women of color and from which my favorite quote EVER about hiring women in tech comes (Aliya Rahman -- If you want to hire more women and people of color, JUST HIRE THEM), I do realilze the picture is not always that "easy" and I'm learning new things every day.
One thing my wife Leanne told me is that it's becoming more well known that the biggest evil to hiring diversity is actually referrals. Like tends to beget like in this case: when we 'refer,' we tend to refer people who 'look like us' - metaphorically and physically. I didn't know this before - and I consider myself somewhat of a diversity champion.
So for a refreshing perspective, try checking out your referral network, abolishing it if needed, and heading off to one of these amazing conferences such as Lesbians Who Tech or Grace Hopper.
One paragraph stood out to me.
In this industry, hiring someone means committing to an investment of $100K or more per annum. If it's your money, spend it how you want, that is your prerogative. But if you are spending your employer's money hiring someone, then you are obligated to cast the net wider than "People like me".
The article Elided Branches: Framing talks about explicitly using your company values in the candidate selection process, so that you avoid the "culture means people who look like me" bias (whether it's conscious or not). Another recent article Here’s Why You Can’t Attract, Develop and Retain Female Talent talks about "second generation bias", which is where work cultures and practices are ostensibly neutral and natural, but the they reflect the masculine values and life situations of the men who have been dominant in the development of traditional work settings. These range from the obvious (stereotypical gender assignments like the woman who’s tracked toward Human Resources instead of operations, or the woman who gets marginalized when she becomes a mother) to the less so (lack of time for networking opportunities, because employed women with male partners still do more housework and childcare than their partners).
Hiring for diversity is not lowering the bar, it's casting a wider net.
Both the links give ways for everyone to "cast the net wider", and that's an important thing in it's self. This is not a "Us vs Them" issue, fighting over one particular job or opportunity. It's about increasing the number of choices and opportunities for everyone.
EDIT: Top 10 Ways To Be a Male Advocate for Technical Women
I work with SAP's Global Diversity and Inclusion Office (GDIO) and just wanted to say thank you for posting such a thoughtful and informative comment. I agree wholeheartedly -- greater diversity creates greater opportunity for all!
Cheers to you!
because employed women with male partners still do more housework and childcare than their partners
I was always wondering why so many men forget how to load a washing machine after getting married. 🙂