By Zoe Rafter
Historically, the tech sector has been predominantly male. Over the last few decades the Science, Tech, Engineering & Mathematic (STEM) industries have been working hard to persuade women to start and stick out careers in tech, increase the diversity of and demand for talent in these fields.
At present, 74% of young girls express an interest in STEM fields and computer science, but only 18% of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26% of tech jobs are held by women – which still means, a talent pool mostly dominated by males.
The women who are hired in to tech roles are 45% more likely to leave within their first year than men, commonly citing the following reasons;
1) Working conditions; inflexible hours, little opportunity for work life & family balance
2) Lack of support and development
3) Isolation; being the only woman or one of few in the company can be isolating
4) Company environment; possible hostile macho culture.
So how do we go about hiring and retaining women in tech?
The hiring process
- In our recruitment process we know it’s important to include a woman (or two!) on interview panels. Women are much more likely to continue the process if they are introduced to another senior software engineer along the way, and more likely to accept if offered!
- Analyse job descriptions for gender-coded language; swapping words like ‘assertive’ ‘hacker’ ‘competitive’ to ‘hardworking’, ‘motivated’ and ‘creative’. We make use of online tools to check the gender coding of our ads before we post.
- Testing our process for unconscious bias. For example, we challenge ourselves to be aware of similarity biases; we try to avoid hiring people because they have similar hobbies or went to a similar university as other employees/hiring managers. We balance our scoring process with behavioural, quantitative and skills-based metrics.
- We actively look for female developers. We go to women focused conferences, use Github, Linkedin & Stack as hiring platforms, women in tech meetups and support specific campaigns that promote gender diversity.
The company culture
- We shout about female leaders within the business! Promote your gender-balanced leadership team, invite women in leadership roles to publish blog posts and articles.
- Minimise ‘Bro Culture’ – decrease the benefits of working at the company being football tables or in house bars. Use the same style of performance reviews and hold them to standards when giving bonuses and pay rises.
- Promote equal pay and benefits for women.
- Give everyone a voice at the table – ensure you encourage everyone to participate in the conversations you are having, and an escalation route to use if they don’t feel heard.
Openly and publicly support the next generation of women in tech! You can attend ‘girls who code’ events or student programmes to encourage girls and women to study STEM subjects and work in tech!