Hire More Women In Tech

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.

- FastCoExist / Anita Borg: The Case For Investing In Women

  • 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).

- McKinsey & Company / Why Diversity Matters


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.

Engineer Qualifications

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.

Engineer Responsibilities

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.

(excerpted from ERE)

Want more examples?

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.


How to hire women [dig further]

First hand accounts of being a woman in tech

Metrics, research, studies

Great, related resources

“The tech industry may have a problem with women, but women don't have a problem with technology.” 

- Ann Friedman, Washington Post