Women are leading some of the world's largest technology companies but overall, the industry is still struggling to advance gender equity. A subject close to Circuit’s heart, we strive to bring light to this inequality, and offer suggestions on how we can tackle the problem, together.
 
There has been a multitude of surveys, tests and whitepapers on the subject but what can we really implement to make a positive change going forward?
 
Check your team’s unconscious bias
 
NFP completed an interesting survey sending a CV of ‘Susan’ to over 500 hiring managers – then changed her name to ‘Simon’ and sent the CV to another 500 hiring managers. Despite being the exact same CV except for the name, the attitudes of hiring managers towards ‘Susan’ and ‘Simon’ differed.
 
One key finding was that female respondents said ‘Susan’ matched more attributes needed for the job than Simon, while men said ‘Simon’ matched more attributes than ‘Susan’. Despite this, both genders were significantly more likely to interview and hire ‘Simon’ rather than ‘Susan’.
 
They also found that survey respondents who hire more than 20 people a year were more likely to interview ‘Simon’ over ‘Susan’ (65 per cent versus 51 per cent). For hiring managers who recruited less regularly, the gap between ‘Susan’ and ‘Simon’ reduced to 3 per cent.
 
This is an interesting finding since unconscious bias is more likely to impact decisions that are made quickly. Such managers would say they rely on their experience, but it’s possible their decisions are less deliberate and therefore when an unconscious bias exists it affects their hiring decisions. In comparison, people who don’t have as much hiring experience are more considered in their decisions.
 
We suggest trialling a similar survey with your hiring team and provide honest feedback to induce change.
 
Gender neutral ad writing
 
Without realising it, we all use language that is subtly ‘gender-coded’. Society has certain expectations of what men and women are like, and how they differ, and this seeps into the language we use. Think about “bossy” and “feisty”: we almost never use these words to describe men.
 
This linguistic gender-coding shows up in job adverts as well, and research has shown that it puts women off applying for jobs that are advertised with masculine-coded language.
 
Another way to attract female employees is to implement blind hiring techniques. These can consist of blind candidate screening, pre-employment testing, genderless CVs and even insisting that shortlists include an equal share of women.
 
We suggest using a gender decoder to check your job postings for bias. A great one we use at Circuit is: https://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/gender-bias-decoder/
 
Is it an attraction problem?
 
While equal and fair salaries are immensely important factors, there are more ways that companies can attract and retain female employees within the tech industry. Diversity initiatives that include policies for women are proven to be hugely beneficial.
 
Introducing policies for post-maternity support for mothers returning to work, as well as benefits for working mothers and improving flexible working are all invaluable.
 
Career events
 
First-hand presentations are very compelling when it comes to attracting candidates. By hosting, joining or supporting events that are geared around supporting women in the workplace, you’re opening yourself up to a whole new talent pool.  Show the market that you’re open to making positive moves that others only talk about.
 
Change isn’t an overnight solution. It’s an effort that takes time, patience and dedication. A poor in-person and online presence is just as bad as no presence at all. Companies with female-led initiatives who actively market them experience greater success capturing women than those who don’t.
 
Don’t take your eye off retention
 
Improving the numbers of women in your workplace is just as important as retaining them. Women are leaving the sector for a range of reasons including the male-dominated culture of some teams, the lack of support to stay up-to-date after taking a break to have children, and hours that aren’t family-friendly. Not to say that everyone falls into each of these categories.
 
One of the main reasons women leave their job in tech is due to the lack of advancement within their field. Candidates today take the time to research companies they want to work for. If they see the leadership team is dominated by males, they’re less likely to pursue an opportunity with the company due to little confidence in an upward career trajectory.
 
Start a mentorship program for women
 
Ask women in senior positions within your company to mentor new recruits. Use your branding and social media to promote this so that prospective female employees know what to look for when joining your company. Set an agenda that is specific to their job, but also promote that this will be helpful throughout their entire career.
 
For example, a mentor who introduces her mentee to other projects related to work also introduces her to a new network of people within those projects. New skills learned from a mentor can be transferrable skills in a woman’s future career. It is amazing what successful women can teach each other in the workplace.

Create advancement opportunities
 
When you invest in the advancement of women in tech, you are investing in the creativity and progress of your company and product. Unfortunately, women are less likely than men to put themselves forward for roles that they are not completely qualified for.
 
Promote women at an equal rate to men, not out of obligation, but because you hire women that you can see progressing in the future. Reward great work with a step up the ladder. Creating an even playing field is the single largest thing you can do as an employer to let women succeed. When hiring any employee, including women, have a clearly defined career path in mind. You need to fill one position right now, but what role could this woman play in the future of your company? When hiring, or after each promotion, set goals for the next step on this path. This transparency will help your employees to climb the ladder themselves.
 
 

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