How do we recruit women in the tech sector?

Nathan Baranowski

Women make up just 17% of employees in the UK tech industry but how do we go about making the change?

Diversity

If you’re familiar with the tech sector, you’ll know that women are underrepresented. In fact, the number of females working in technology is lower than most other UK sectors – they make up just 17 per cent of employees.  The world has its fair share of successful female role models in top-level jobs, leaders like Marissa Mayer, Ginni Rometty and Cher Wang. However, in reality, they’re outnumbered by their male counterparts.

It’s been proven that gender diversity benefits companies when it comes to profit. According to the European Commission, encouraging more women into technology companies could boost the EU’s GDP by £16 billion a year. We have the evidence and companies know the benefits. So why are we struggling to recruit and how can we encourage more women to choose a career in tech?

What does the team at OJO Solutions look like?

As a team, we’re keen to recruit in a diverse way, not only to bring equality to the business, but because having employees from different backgrounds encourages and promotes creativity. We think that in the world of tech, you need a balanced view. Gender-diverse teams are better able to serve a wider range of clientele. Technology should be removing male bias, not reinforcing it, and for this you need females to get involved in considering design, user experience and the application of technology.

We’re a growing business, and last year we took on four new members of staff. At the moment, we have two female colleagues, but we’re aware that we need to do more when it comes to recruiting women in the tech sector. Our challenge is getting balance between hiring in a diverse way and picking the best candidate for the job irrespective of gender. For example, for a recent technology consultant role, we received only two female applicants out of 15 and in the end, we offered the role to a male who was the best qualified and most experienced candidate.

What are the challenges for companies?

Technology is a traditionally male dominated space. There has been a lot of discussion around the fact that women are not attracted to study STEM subjects in science, technology, engineering and maths. In 2016/17, women represented just 15 per cent of computer science graduates in the UK. This means that employers are choosing from an unequal talent pool. Furthermore, we know that hiring managers tend to recruit people who are similar to themselves, so it’s important to think about unconscious bias.

Finally, the more females you have in a company, the more will be attracted to work for you in the future. Unfortunately, if you’re a mainly male company, this could work the other way, so it’s about breaking the cycle and encouraging applicants from both genders.

What can we do to recruit more women – some suggestions

Looking at how you advertise job roles  

Adverts are important – they’re your only chance to make an impression and invite talented candidates to apply. However, wording is important and it’s surprising how this can influence job-seekers. For example, the social media platform Buffer decided to change their job titles after they found out that the word ‘hacker’ was discouraging female applicants.

To remove gender bias, Glassdoor suggests using neutral titles in job descriptions and avoiding superlatives like ‘competitive’ and ‘world-class’. This is because women are more collaborative in nature and may see this as off-putting. Using platforms like Textio can help you to check the way you word things. Another way to aid the hiring process is to get women in your company involved. It not only helps with employee engagement, it also makes the point to candidates that females are already represented within the business.

Invest in the future – reach out to existing tech communities

There are several initiatives to encourage women to join the tech sector. For example, DevelopHer is a community which supports females with their career through networking, and workshops. It’s also worth looking at STEM Women, set up by professionals in the UK. They run events and introduce employers to emerging talent. As a company, OJO Solutions has signed up to the Tech Talent Charter demonstrating our commitment to change the way we recruit in order to deliver greater diversity in the workforce. You can also research your local community and see if you can offer support here. Are there any female students at your local college who would benefit from work experience or mentoring? And can you encourage more young people to follow a pathway in computing?

Make your workplace inviting to women

We know that flexible starts, the ability to change hours, or work from home for part of the week is important to female employees. Society is changing and fathers are playing a greater role in childcare than ever before. However, for working women with a family it’s still important to know they can get a balance between time in the office and life at home. For existing staff members, think about whether they have an opportunity to socialise with and be mentored by senior women. If there’s not an obvious role model for them, it might be that you can encourage them to network and attend conferences with female speakers. All of this helps people feel supported and aids staff retention.

Work on your branding and careers page

It’s worth having a look how you appear on your website and whether you’re actively encouraging diversity. This is the first place candidates will look when they’re researching your company, so make sure you mention the fact that you’re looking to include people from all walks of life within your team on your visions and values page. Again, ask women working within your company what they think of the website and how it could be improved to appeal to both genders. On your careers page, make it clear that you’re searching for talent rather than the finished article. Women who are interested in a tech career may not have the right qualifications, but may be interested in training to gain these. If you’re willing to provide this, it’s worth mentioning.

If you are looking to take your first step into the technology sector, or further develop your digital career, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us by emailing hello@ojosolutions.com, or give a member of the team a call on 01225 220155.

 

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