Dear CEO's, COO's, managers, recruiters, and people making hiring decisions: here are a few simple things you can do to find and hire more qualified women in tech. Hiring women in senior roles at your company is good for your business and your company's growth - ensure that you truly get to the BEST candidates for the job. #changetheratio
Monoculture is bad for business.
We've focused here on engineering because people insist that female engineers or developers are "unicorns," but hiring more women in design, product, project management, community, and leadership positions in general creates a healthier workplace. A diverse workplace is proven to get better results, more accurately reflects your customer/client base, and ensures a wider range of experience.
Where are all the women?
"Women account for fewer than a quarter of the engineers at most tech companies. Technical positions are more likely to lead to senior roles at tech companies." - NYTimes
"Only 11% of all engineers in the U.S. are women, according to Department of Labor. The situation is a better among computer programmers, but not much. Women account for only 26% of all American coders." - Wired
"[An] aspect of the gender-in-tech problem that I rarely see acknowledged: the heavily gendered casting of roles within companies – or in other words, the way that tech companies with female employees tend to place them in “people” roles, while men dominate in technical positions...Coders are lionized in the tech sector, and are compensated for their technical skills with higher wages and positional power – so women without coding chops are automatically less likely to advance to senior positions or command the highest salaries." - Lauren Bacon
High-performing companies have women in senior management.
- Fortune 500 companies with at least three female directors have seen their return on invested capital increase by at least 66%, return on sales increase by 42%, and return on equity increase by at least 53%.
- In a study by Dezsö and Ross of 1,500 U.S. ﬁrms in the S&P, female representation in top management improved ﬁnancial performance for organizations where innovation is a key piece of the business strategy.
- In 2012, a NCWIT analysis of women’s participation in IT patents found that U.S. patents produced by mixed-gender teams were cited 30% to 40% more than other similar patents.
- Gallup has found that companies with more diverse teams (including more women) have a 22% lower turnover rate. Organizations with more inclusive cultures also have an easier time with recruiting.
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
- Companies in the bottom quartile both for gender and for ethnicity and race are statistically less likely to achieve above-average financial returns than the average companies in the data set (that is, bottom-quartile companies are lagging rather than merely not leading).
It’s tough to prove gender bias.
“...Research from Yale that had scientists presented with application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position and who intended to go on to graduate school. Half the scientists were given the application with a male name attached, and half were given the exact same application with a female name attached. Results found that the “female” applicants were rated significantly lower than the 'males' in competence, hireability, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student.” - Scientific American
'The problem is that the idea that women are not as good is so deeply embedded in the mind of so many people in positions of power, that it is not even recognized. It’s a belief system that leads one to automatically and without awareness, connect “women” with “lower standards” and “woman as good as a man” with "the exception." ...And its cumulative effects are profound. It’s why women must be 2.5 times as good as men to be considered equally competent. It’s why holding blind auditions for orchestras increase women’s chances of advancing to final rounds by 50%. It’s why professors who receive requests for mentorship from prospective students are less likely to respond if the request comes from a woman. It’s why women are hired and promoted based on proof, while men are hired and promoted based on potential.' - Jessica Nordell
The premise of “We Only Hire The Best Candidates.”
The idea is not to hire women just because they're women. Hire women that are amazing at their jobs. Own the responsibility of actually getting the word out to the widest pool of candidates possible. If you're only getting male candidates, perhaps the problem lies with either how you're describing the position, or the pool of candidates who are actually seeing the job post.
Gendered wording attracts or repels candidates.
Get more women in during the interview process. Even if your post isn't overly bro-oriented, are you sending cues that your workplace has the potential to be unwelcoming, or even toxic, to women?
*NOTE: Hopefully, this gendered language issue transforms and evolves in the next 5 -10 years - this is simply an effort to identify what affects applicants NOW, and to build up and expand the female applicant pool for the widest funnel possible.
Re-evaluate your job post descriptions.
Engineer Company Description
Average Description: 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.
Average Description: Strong communication and influencing skills. Ability to perform individually in a competitive environment. Superior ability to satisfy customers and manage company’s association with them.
BETTER: Proficient oral and written communications skills. Collaborates well in a team environment. Sensitive to clients’ needs, can develop warm client relationships.
Average Description: Direct project groups to manage project progress and ensure accurate task control. Determine compliance with client’s objectives.
BETTER: Provide general support to project team in a manner complimentary to the company. Help clients with construction activities.
Want more examples?
- Erin Kissane collected a Storify of Twitter responses in making job listings that don't alienate: I asked for people from communities that are underrepresented in their fields to talk about language in job descriptions that makes them back away, and the reverse—wording or specification that feel inviting.
- Courtney Seiter from Buffer wrote about their company process in FastCompany: How Changing One Word In Job Descriptions Can Lead To More Diverse Candidates
- Brittany Laughlin, with USV, has a great article on defining what diversity means to your company, and how language matters.
- Laurie Voss wrote great guidelines about writing job posts for diversity and even created an open source repo of former job descriptions to help you.
- Textio is a platform that aids in "spell checking" for unconscious bias.
- Facebook has actually released a suite of videos and resources around unconscious bias, called Managing Bias, addressing job postings to in-person meetings to on-the-job interactions.
Don't like these examples? Write your own! The main point here is that language matters. Women can be (and are) all of these things in the "average" sections: competitive, dominant, and strong, but it's worth noting that this wording is often a cue for an atmosphere and culture that is unwelcoming. (H/T Thomas H. Ptacek for a helpful and critical conversation about these words as "gendered." He suggested not removing words such as competitive, especially if the environment IS competitive, and you're seeking candidates that thrive in that environment. He advised that paying attention to the language you use, and what it signals, is critical to finding great candidates).
There's no universal "right answer" for the exact wording that is best. Look back at your company's mission, values, and goals for guideposts on the best ways to explain what you're looking for, and to entice people to your company and its culture.
Track the gender of your applicants, not just the hires.
"You need to be aiming for a 50/50 men-to-women ratio." - Allison Sawyer, The Wall Street Journal
*NOTE: aim for this ratio in these early days, as we try to build towards a more equitable system.
Recruit better: invest in existing women's tech communities.
Reach out to women's groups, and strongly consider hiring a female recruiter who is skilled in recruiting female applicants. "...women in technology find themselves outnumbered and often marginalized, they’ve responded by becoming highly organized...there’s a huge network of women in tech, and they’re working together to transform the industry — and each other’s careers." - Washington Post
Invest in the future. "Give to build a pipeline and community of talent. Sponsor events, underwrite scholarships, pay fellows or interns of the communities you are trying to reach. Start a mentoring programs. Underwrite trainings for young developers, returning workers such as mothers, and female STEM students. To quote Anthea: 'Mid-level superstars don’t just magically appear from heaven, they are nurtured and grown.' Help grow them. That means always, always, always give more than you take." - Katrin Verclas
Look to expand your networks. "Primary networks mainly include people with similar interests and backgrounds. If you are a founder seeking diversity in your team and investors, find ways to expand your networks. The head of software development at Joyus is a woman and 60% of her team is female. She looked in different places to recruit diverse talent." - Theresia Gouw, No More ‘Pipeline’ Excuses, Wall Street Journal
An incomplete list of women's tech communities.
- Women in Tech - membership organization for women in tech.
- Lesbians Who Tech - community of queer women in & around tech (and the people who love them).
- Tech LadyMafia - global community that supports anyone who identifies as a woman, who works in and around the internet.
- TheLi.st - a visibility platform for awesome women.
- Girls Who Code - national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors.
- Women Who Code - a global movement inspiring women to excel in technology careers.
- PyLadies - an international mentorship group with a focus on helping more women become active participants and leaders in the Python open-source community.
- Scientista Foundation - The one-stop site for campus women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
- Women's Coding Collective - a community of women who create for the web [Boston, global].
- MotherCoders - a non-profit that helps moms on-ramp to technical careers.
- Ladies Who Code - brings the brightest female minds together to code, talk tech, share ideas and innovate via global meetups & conferences.
- Skillcrush - digital skills learning resource and blog.
- Black Girls Code - a non-profit organization that focuses on providing technology education to African-American girls ages 7–17.
- Girl Develop It - Empowering women of diverse backgrounds from around the world to learn how to develop software.
- Pipeline Fellowship - an angel investing bootcamp for women.
- Ada Initiative - supporting women in open technology and culture.
- Articulate Network - raising the profile of women speakers.
- Black Female Coders - self-explanatory, no?
- Change the Ratio - raising visibility of women in male dominated fields.
- Latinas in Computing - a community created by and for the Latinas in computing with a mission of promoting their representation and success in computing related fields.
- NY Tech Women - self-explanatory, yet again.
- Dames Making Games - do consulting with game companies on improving HR practices & culture, and run successful programs for women interested in learning technical and project-based game development skills [Toronto].
- Berlin Geekettes - community helping aspiring & established female tech innovators [Berlin, global].
- Canadian Women in Communications and Technology - Empowering women in communications, digital media and technology fields to achieve professional success.
- Chicago Women Developers - For women who love to code or want to learn.
- Ms. Tech Group - a social impact focused, membership organization with a community that provides women in technology ventures and innovative companies, the inspiration, knowledge, and connections to reach their full potential. [Chicago, New York, more soon]
- National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) - works to correct the imbalance of gender diversity in technology and computing [U.S. national, based in Boulder CO].
- Hackbright Academy - Hackbright Academy is the leading engineering school for women that graduates more women software engineers per year than Stanford and UC Berkeley combined. [San Francisco]
- Code First: Girls - Runs free courses and events that help young women learn the basics of web development and entrepreneurship. [London, UK]
- Railsbridge - Free workshops in Rails, Ruby, and other web technologies. Focused on increasing diversity in tech, so that people of all backgrounds can feel welcome and comfortable in the tech industry. [U.S. national, Mexico, South Africa, Canada]
- she++ - is a social enterprise that empowers women to make their mark on the technology industry, and seeks to dismantle the untrue stereotype that computer science is not a career for women.
- Hey, Men in Tech: 10 Tips for Solving Your Pipeline Problem, by Katrin Verclas - READ THIS. Well written, and she lists even more communities to invest in and reach out to.
An incomplete list of folks highlighting diversity & jobs.
- Power To Fly. Recruitment agency focused on women and technology.
- Amrit Richmond's Dear Women In Tech connects women with good jobs.
- Allison Esposito's new weekly email of jobs for women in tech (she runs NYC Tech Ladies group).
- Amélie Lamont & her crew will be launching Good For People of Color in June 2016, focused on tech.
How to hire women [dig further]
- Intel Discloses Diversity Data, Challenges Tech Industry To Follow Suit, NPR, All Tech Considered. "Intel's ability to hire diversely is proof that the so-called "pipeline" problem — the idea that there just aren't enough good candidates out there — is overhyped."
- Tech Inclusion Conference, organized by Change Catalysts (SF). “Learn what's currently being done around tech diversity and inclusion, discuss initiatives that have worked – and those that haven't – plus explore new solutions together.”
- The challenge of hiring and retaining women: An interview with the head of HR at eBay, McKinsey Quarterly. "Beth Axelrod discusses how companies can do better at hiring, retaining, and promoting women."
- How to Hire More Women at Your Startup, by Cristina Cordova
- 10 Actionable Ways to Actually Increase Diversity In Tech, Catherine Ashcroft, FastCompany
- There's No Excuse For Not Hiring Women, Allison Sawyer, The Wall Street Journal
- Hiring Female Tech Talent in NYC: An Open Source Experiment, [Chartbeat] Alleywatch
- Reads about Etsy's initiatives:
- Hiring Women to Recruit More Women: Not As Easy As It Sounds!, Slate
- The Engineer and the Empath, Crystal Beasley
- Sponsorship isn’t enough: Why Tech Companies Are Failing To Attract Female Engineers, Adria Richards
- Lessons from the USV Diversity Summit and How to Start Talking to Your Team About Diversity, by Brittany Laughlin, Union Square Ventures
- How to Remove Gender Bias From the Hiring Process, Will Yakowicz, Inc
- This is how to build a gender-balanced tech company, Maelle Gavet, Fortune
First hand accounts of being a woman in tech
- About Feminism. "This is not what we expected, we really just want to work on what we love." - a great one pager site by a group of women in tech.
- When Excellence Isn’t Enough: Why I talk about gender, Ellen Chisa
- A Thousand Papercuts, by Nikki Lee
- What a woman's worth & why she's undervalued in Silicon Valley, by Kim Gordon & Shambhavi Kadam
- It’s Not My Job to Fix Your Pipeline Problem, by Anthea Watson Strong
- Ashe Dryden, a programmer talking about the lack of diversity in tech. [video, 30 minutes]
- Tinder, Women, and the Question Every Investor Should Ask, Natalia Oberti Noguera, Time
- Joanne Wilson, Angel Investor, talks about (among many things) women and startups [video, 1 hour]
- What I learned in My First Year as a Female Startup CEO, Yunha Kim
- This Is What Tech’s Ugly Gender Problem Really Looks Like, Wired
- What It's Like Raising Money As A Woman In Silicon Valley, Anonymous, Forbes
- Women Won't Name Harassing Venture Capitalists, Even Anonymously, ValleyWag
- "The Glass Cliff" & 4 Other Ways Our Coworkers Treat Us Differently Because Of Gender, Christian Jarrett, 99U
- Why women are leaving the tech industry in droves, Sue Gardner, LA Times Op Ed
- How Our Engineering Environments are Killing Diversity, Kate Heddleston
Metrics, research, studies
- Elephant In The Valley. "The inspiration for this survey came out of the incredible conversation from the Ellen Pao & KPCB trial. What we realized is that while many women shared similar workplace stories, most men were simply shocked and unaware of the issues facing women in the workplace. In an effort to correct the massive information disparity, we decided to get the data and the stories. We focused on five main areas including: Feedback & Promotion, Inclusion, Unconscious biases, Motherhood, and Harassment & Safety."
- Issues Affecting Women in STEM. A treasure chest of peer-reviewed research, assembled by Sarah Rugheimer.
- We Can Do Better. Data visualization of gender disparity in engineering teams in the tech industry, by Ri Liu.
- Laurie Voss' tech diversity spreadsheet - Large tech companies, by gender, and race/ethnicity
- 'Double Jeopardy' Report Shows Gender Bias Against Women Of Color In STEM Is Alive And Well, by Claire Warner, Bustle
- Women and Leadership, Public Says Women are Equally Qualified, but Barriers Persist, Pew Research
- The Last Thing You'll Ever Need To Read About Sexism In Tech, by Ann Friedman *great graphs, charts, and quotes by great thinkers on the topic
- Women's Engineering Society (UK) Statistics on numbers of women in engineering.
- The Women in IT Scorecard, BCS (UK).
- How Diversity Makes Us Smarter, Scientific American
- Twitter, Like Other Big Tech Companies, Comes Up Short on Diversity, The New York Times
- NYC's tech gender gap is nation's largest, Crain's NY
- The Petrie Multiplier: Why an Attack on Sexism in Tech is NOT an Attack on Men, Ian Gent
- Study shows gender bias in science is real. Here’s why it matters., Scientific American
- If you’re serious about hiring a diverse staff, try actually posting your job, Zombie Journalism
- You Don’t Know It, But Women See Gender Bias in Your Job Postings, ERE
- Use Group Evaluation to Mitigate Gender Bias, Diversity Executive
- Study Exposes Gender Bias in Tech Job Listings, Wired
- Study: Men And Women Twice As Likely To Hire A Man For A Math-Based Job, TechCrunch
- Business Advantages of Diversity in the Workplace, Small Business Chronicle
- Women Do Not Apply To ‘Male-Sounding’ Jobs, TIME
Great, related resources
- Learn To Search - in case you're looking for women to speak at conferences and on panels, and have no idea how to search.
- Geek Feminism - read about issues women are facing in the workplace.
- Increasing Diversity at Your Conference, by Ashe Dryden
- Robin Ely conducts research on race and gender relations in organizations with a focus on organizational change, group dynamics, learning, conflict, power, and identity, and has numerous cases and publications.
- How to (Effectively) Be a Feminist in the Workplace, The Muse
- Newsletter: #AwesomeWomen, edited by Stacy-Marie Ishmael
- Newsletter: Ally as a Verb, by Kathryn Rotondo