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Why You Want Women Marching into your Tech Positions

January 30, 2017

women engineers at startups and tech businesses

Women around the world marched in solidarity on Saturday, and it’s time that tech companies started showing solidarity as well. You want women marching into your open engineer, science and data roles, because they are ready and exited to take on the jobs of tomorrow. And there will be jobs for you to fill, lots of them.

There are projected to be over 1.1 Million open computer science and technology related jobs open by 2024, and only 41% of these jobs can be done by candidates with a bachelor’s degree level of education. New tech roles will require more expertise, experience and education, and, by sheer numbers, more women are attending college and holding jobs than men.

However, their representation in tech is slim, holding only 26% of computer science and technology heavy jobs. There was 27% increase in the number of first-year undergraduate women interested in majoring in Computer Science between 2000 and 2015, and, considering that 74 percent of young girls express interest in STEM fields and computer science, we could see a large increase in female tech workers in the future.

You want women marching into your open tech jobs because there is still a gender gap to close in STEM heavy jobs and you don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. Early adopters of this diversity hiring initiative have an opportunity to build it into their brand story and earn the respect of female tech talent around the world. Companies that don’t make an effort to hire more women for tech jobs may not feel the effects today, but they may start to notice how a clearly male-dominated workspace can be a deterrent for otherwise interested candidates.

Here are a few steps that every tech company should take in order to build greater gender diversity in their workforce.

Hire More Women

The diversity hiring is only an issue when it’s an issue. If you have a racially/ethnically/gender diverse workforce as a whole and in each individual department, you are fine. That being said, even reasonably diverse companies can fall short on diversity in specific departments.

At Google, women only make up 17% of their technical staff. At Facebook, only 15% of technical employees are women and at Twitter, only 10% of technical staff are female. The reasons for this trend are debated, but the solution is simple: hire more female tech talent.

Though you should always focus on candidate qualifications first, getting more women into tech starts with acknowledging that there are very few women in tech. Your interviewers should always be focused on skills, experience and qualifications, but they should all be aware of your company’s goal of increasing the head count of female tech employees.

The effect of hiring women into your tech jobs is cumulative, and your ability to hire women for tech positions will only improve as you add more female technical staff. No matter the minority group, members of this group will feel more comfortable accepting job offers from companies where their group is represented. They may also feel uncomfortable accepting a job at a company that is completely dominated by a particular demographic, wary of the weirdness it could add to their workday.

A diversity of opinions, talents and backgrounds is essential for effective innovation, and strengthening your ability to hire a diversity of tech professionals will be essential for employers going forward. 

Ask Tough Questions

If you want to improve the gender balance on your tech team or at your company, you may need to ask some tough questions. For instance:

“If I were female, would this (joke)(comment)(question)(attitude)(policy) make me feel uncomfortable?”

Men account for the vast majority of tech employees and, as any guy who has been stuck in a room full of other guys can tell you, things can get out of hand. A “fun” work environment is only worth having if it’s fun for everyone, and a male-dominated company culture has the potential to drive off female tech talent and deter female candidates from accepting your offer.

There are plenty of horror stories out there from women in the tech industry who unwittingly joined companies and departments that had become man caves, boys clubs, nerd bunkers, etc. and this is not the sort of press or reputation you want for your organization.

Every company has its own unique culture, but this culture also needs to work for everyone and adjust to new members of the team. Ask the tough questions about your company’s culture and use the insights that these questions produce to effect a change in your organization, if necessary.

Make it Public Knowledge

Though this issue is raised on a consistent basis, the progress being made is slow. Make it public knowledge that your company’s goal is to employ more women in technical roles, and you can generate a huge increase of interest from female tech candidates.

Creating this sort of reputation for your company can be a lightning rod for female tech stars from all corners of the industry. By announcing this goal in a press release and/or on social media, you stand to gain a powerful recruiting tool.

A diversity of ideas and backgrounds is what drives innovation, not cramming 100 near-clones into a basement and expecting something original to emerge. So, when you are making a choice between several qualified candidates, consider the impact that you could make on this issue by choosing a woman for your open tech job. This trend isn’t going to reverse itself overnight, but getting more women into tech starts with changing attitudes and acknowledging how much work is left to be done on this issue.

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