Bridging the Gender Gap

Step into any tech-based office (or look at the next tech team Zoom meetup) and you’ll see that women are massively underrepresented.

Only 26% of computing jobs are held by women. This number has been on a steady decline for years.

The attrition rate is more than twice as high for women than it is for men in tech industry jobs — 41% versus 17%

56% of women in tech are leaving their employers mid-career.

From 1980 to 2010, 88% of all information technology patents were by male-only invention teams, while 2% were by female-only invention teams. So essentially, the technology being created for a widely varying and diverse population has historically been formed by a homogeneous group. Not ideal.

So why does this matter to you? How does it affect your business now?

A diverse workforce has been shown to be more agile, more productive and even more profitable. Fortune magazine reported that companies with female CEOs outperformed male led companies on the S&P 500 by 300%.

So, what can you do about it?

Amplify Women’s Voice in Your Team/Company

Amplification techniques can help to counteract women being overlooked (or not even invited into meetings), especially in the tech workplace, and aid in improving listening skills. Not sure how to begin amplifying? Start in your meeting rooms. Highlight the contributions of those in the team who have perhaps held back from being vocal.

Click and follow the women in tech on social media who are championing the increase in gender diversity. Share this with your own team. Breaking down the unconscious bias that exists in tech starts in your own business.

Stop Hiring Based Upon Team Fit

If you catch yourself saying out loud – “they need to fit with the rest of the team” how are you ever going to find a diverse workforce and bridge the gender gap?

Set your hiring standard based upon skills, attitude and capability. Stop seeking culture fit and team fit. It’s the recipe for replicating the team you’ve already got.

Increase Diversity in Your Process

Women are far more likely to join a business where they see other women working. Getting more diversity into your own interview process will help you to speak to a broader audience and bridge your own gender gap.

Remove Gender Bias from Your Job Adverts & Descriptions

Using neutral language will help you to remove gender bias from your written communication. With women less likely to apply for a job after viewing it (by 16%) it is important that you don’t unconsciously put them off. This free tool from Kat Matfield (a Python coding specialist using research on gender-based language in adverts, by the University of Sussex) is a great way to assess your adverts and job descriptions.

Disregard Unnecessary Hiring Criteria

Not everything you ask for is essential in a job briefing. Be clear on what is essential and what is desirable. Some of your hiring expectations may prevent some applicants applying, particularly women.

Men will apply for a job once they feel they are a 60% match or more.

Women apply for roles when they perceive there to be a 100% fit.

If you are asking too much (relative to the actual job) you could be responsible for reducing the number of female applications. 38% of companies said their biggest barrier to bridging the gender gap was a lack of applicants. This could be why.

Value the Journey – Not Just the Work Bio

Learn how to value the journey. We often value recognizable indicators of past success, such as career climbing and work experience in leading companies. We are less skilled at recognizing unique talent, or those whose journey is possibly longer and less traditional; in many cases, those candidates can demonstrate exemplary grit, resilience and creative problem-solving.

Consider the Future – Not Just the Immediate Vacancy

Think about the business you want to build. What matters in the long run? We often get caught in the short-term need to add someone with a functional skill, like project management. We need to also consider how each person adds to the overall diversity of approaches and experiences that will help guide the team through growth and challenges.

Small changes in behaviour can start to open up you and the business to a more diverse, richer workforce.