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

THE PROBLEM:
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

And women are frequently silenced or talked over: "Studies show that women only speak about 25% of the time in corporate meetings. Similarly, while analyzing lectures in Tech, the conclusion was that men have a 42.6% chance of being interrupted, while women stand a 89.3% chance. Men interrupt other men about twice every 3 minutes, while women get interrupted between 2.6 and 2.8 times for the same period." - Andressa Chiara

 

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. And of note: if you have an employee referral program, it may make sense to review whether it actually works to get you a diversity of candidates (or violates US law).


TAKE ACTION

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.

(above language examples 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 critical conversation about these words as "gendered." We agree on the following points: not removing words such as competitive, especially if the environment IS competitive, and you're seeking candidates that thrive in that environment, and 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.

 

Treat Your Current Employees Well

"If companies look at this from a business perspective, they are literally flushing resources down the toilet if the person they recruited, interviewed, hired, on-boarded, and employed for two years quits because the environment is (at best) not a fit or (at worst) blatantly sexist. That’s the real leaky pipe. All of the resources that go into finding and hiring women (and other underrepresented groups, but I can speak to my experience best) should very quickly be rerouted to retention and promotion." - Kate Buckholz, Wired

"The first step, and the most important step, to improving diversity is to make sure that you are treating the women and people of color who already work at your company very well. This includes: appreciate their contributions, assign them to high impact projects, bring up their accomplishments in high level meetings, pay them equitably, provide chances to grow their skillset, listen to them, help them prepare for promotions, give them good managers, believe them about their experiences, and generally support them." - Rachel Thomas

"Counter inappropriate behavior and social stigmatization: Comments like "she's a tough bitch", “why don't you smile more?”, "she's bossy", "when are you having children?" happen to women all the time, and are much more harmful than they seem. The mosquito bite metaphor works great for me here. One bite is annoying, a few bits are irritating, but a lot of bites are intolerable. It is easy to dismiss one or two inappropriate comments, a dozen gets very tiresome, but many is like death by a 1000 paper cuts. When you hear inappropriate comments, or if you are reproducing them yourself, pause and question yourself, would you make those comments to a man? If not, stop. If it wasn’t you, explain to the person who said them why they are inappropriate." - Andressa Chiara

 

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. The point here is to be data-driven, because you can't improve what you don't collect metrics on.

 

Address diversity in the hiring process.

"Many companies are alienating the qualified women who want to work for them, and who they want to hire, during the interview process itself...what the executives don’t give as much thought to are some of the simplest determinants of how successful a company will be in hiring diverse candidates. Will women have any input in the hiring process? Will the interview panels be diverse? Will current female employees be available to speak to candidates about their experiences? Many times, the answer to each of these questions is no, and the resistance to make simple changes in these areas is striking." - Katharine Zaleski, Power To Fly / New York Times

 

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

Make it a part of every day. 'Diversity means caring at every stage, everyday, and forever. It doesn’t end when you’ve made a few new hires, and it doesn’t end when you go home at night...And if the only time your org talks about diversity is at KPI season…think again. Your org doesn’t have a “diversity problem,” it just has problems period.' - Carol Ann Benovic

 

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. 
  • Ada's List - global community for women in tech, based on principles of inclusion, empowerment and diversity. [UK, US, + International]
  • 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. [US]
  • 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. [US, EU, Latin America, Africa, India]
  • Women in Tech Communities around the World [MAP RESOURCE], made and assembled by Veni Kunche
  • 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.
  • League of Women Coders - a grassroots collective that focusses on coding, hacking, and learning together. We’re like a book club for superhero women coders. Formed out of the now defunct Ladies Who Code. [US]
  • Ladies Of Code - community of professional women developers, with series of global meetups, scholarships and conferences. Formed out of the now defunct Ladies Who Code. [EU]
  • 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 Angels - an angel investing bootcamp for women, and is a network of new and seasoned women investors, is changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women and non-binary femme social entrepreneurs. [US]
  • Ada Initiative - supporting women in open technology and culture. [Closed as of Oct 2015, but many great resources still available from the site].
  • Articulate Network - raising the profile of women speakers, a volunteer initiative run by Caper (a creative agency), powered by Lanyrd (and Eventbrite company) and supported by Mudlark (organize the Playful conference). 
  • 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, Women In Tech NY, Women In Tech / NY Tech Alliance, Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship/ CUNY - meetups, programs, scholarships, and newsletters. [NYC]
  • TechWomen empowers, connects and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East by providing them the access and opportunity needed to advance their careers, pursue their dreams, and inspire women and girls in their communities. TechWomen is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. [Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East]
  • Dames Making Games - Space for genderqueer, nonbinary, femmes, Two Spirit people, and trans and cis women to create games freely. Workshops, lectures, studio sessions, mentoring and internships, inclusive workplace consultation, more. [Toronto]
  • Berlin Geekettes - community helping aspiring & established female tech innovators. [Berlin, global]
  • Women Who Go Berlin - a meetup to encourage & educate underrepresented groups in tech through workshops, study groups & talks. [Berlin]
  • Women Who Go - Building a more diverse and inclusive #golang community. [Global]
  • Canadian Women in Communications and Technology - Empowering women in communications, digital media and technology fields to achieve professional success. [Canada]
  • Chicago Women Developers - For women who love to code or want to learn. [Chicago / US]
  • 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. 
  • SheCanCode - a social enterprise that aims to bridge the digital skills gap in technology by encouraging diversity, targeting women within the tech industry, as well as employers that are actively trying to make gender parity in their organisation a reality. [London,  London, Toronto, NY, SF, expanding to Berlin, Singapore, Paris, São Paulo, Sweden, Oslo, Denmark, Sydney, + more]
  • Women In Robotics - Professional network / international slack channel for women working in or who want to work in robotics [Local SF events and a global network]. 
  • Women In Tech - Ruhr - enables women and other underrepresented groups to live their interest in technology and have a network for knowledge exchange. [Dortmund/Ruhr area, Germany]
  • Resources for Recruiting & Retaining a Diverse Team, by Chaya Cooper - with a focus on Women in Tech
  • 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 (with a vibrant Tech Ladies global community, chock full of in-person events & classes and online discussion to boot).
  • Amélie Lamont & her crew launched Good For People of Color in June 2016.
  • Project Include is an open community working toward providing meaningful diversity and inclusion solutions for tech companies.
  •  SheWorx is coordinating an initiative for Developer Matching: "Looking to diversify your tech team? We empower female engineers and match them with amazing tech companies. This form is for companies looking to hire talent, rather than for individuals looking for technical co-founders, matching is for US based companies looking for junior developers (full-time or paid internships)."
  • Project Alloy is a 501(c)(3) org tackling the fact that women, people of color, trans and gender non-confirming individuals, those with disabilities, and other minorities remain dramatically underrepresented at technical conferences, and lowers those hurdles by offering financial, moral, and social support to individuals who are early in their tech careers.
  • InHerSight is where women go for a better workplace. Women rate their companies on 14 factors that matter to them, and that data is used to match women to companies that have what they are looking for.
  • Women 2.0 just announced Lane (May 2017): a new recruiting platform for encouraging diversity in tech. If you're looking for job opportunities, you can feel free to sign up. If you're on the hiring/recruiting side, feel free to get in touch with them, they'll be onboarding workplaces soon.
  • FSquared connects co-founders, mentors, and investors, to help women create or join the perfect teams. Their mission is to create meaningful connections between women, non-binary people, and allies in tech.
  • Limbo is an anonymous job platform where candidates post their ideal next role and then those candidates let companies introduce themselves.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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