While it seems to be ever more widely acknowledged that there’s an urgent need to encourage more women to climb the tech career ladder, it’s also becoming apparent that these are much easier issues to question than to solve. The proportion of women in the industry’s top jobs is still, by any measure, abysmal. In fact, the proportion of women in technology management roles over the last decade has actually fallen, from 17% to 16%. Given that there’s ample proof that more diverse companies perform much better than their monocultural counterparts, it’s a no-brainer that an IT company worth its salt would want to actively recruit more women into management positions. We’ve done our research and come up with some tried-and-tested approaches to help your firm redress the imbalance:
Catch their attention early
High-level talent doesn’t just appear from nowhere, it needs nurturing from a young age. As anyone with teenage daughters is likely aware, there still exists a distinct lack of girls choosing to study computer science at university level – the highly-rated course at York University, for example, is 91% men. Factors blamed include the still-prevalent male ‘computer nerd’ stereotype (in TV shows such as the popular US-made The Big Bang Theory) and the ongoing perception – by teachers, parents and students – that boys are simply ‘better’ at STEM subjects. and young women directly. There are also several examples of recent internship, mentoring and recruitment schemes specifically targeting young women that your firm can get involved in.
Word your postings carefully
This is controversial, but there have been a number of studies that suggest that women can be unconsciously put off applying for STEM positions because of the ways the recruitment adverts are worded. They claim you could accidentally be sending the wrong message by, for instance, using ‘masculine’ words such as dominant, boast or competitive instead of more inclusive, ‘feminine’ words including support, proficient and team. These insights are certainly worth considering if you’re looking for a better response rate from women.
Tap into existing groups
One of the most encouraging reactions to the STEM gender imbalance in the last ten years or so is the rise of groups, initiatives and societies specifically dedicated to women currently working in tech. Many top staff at internationally successful companies are active in global and local organisations such as Women In Tech, the female-focussed branch of Tech UK or Girls In Tech London. Contact them for advice on recruitment, mentoring schemes and ways your company can work towards equality from entry to CEO level.