There’s a huge push for technology companies to hire more women but as female developer myself, I really haven’t seen much change in the past few years. If you speak to a female in technology, they’ll likely tell you that they don’t actually want special treatment; they just want to just have the same opportunities as their male colleagues.
I’m hugely passionate about my job and I really believe that a diverse workplace is the best workplace. I don’t believe that any gender is better suited to a particular role, but I do think that we possess different skills and that skills that are often associated with males are more valued, especially higher up in business. Women are made to feel like they need to change their personalities to become more assertive, competitive and to not show emotion in order to be taken seriously. But in reality, emotional intelligence is an amazing additional team and management skill. How many times have you seen management decisions made that don’t even consider how this will affect employees? Often it’s not that management meant to upset employees but the correct mix of skills weren’t in the room to foresee this happening. This isn’t just a gender issue either, we need people from all backgrounds in order to make the best decisions.
It’s been found that women will only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the job requirements but men will apply if they meet 60%. That’s a huge difference! Your job description alone could knock out all of the prospective female applicants. I personally think that this is even more true when the woman is in a male dominated industry because our fear of failure is greater; we worry that we’ll be judged more harshly due to our gender. Sadly there is evidence to show that this is true too, with female developers at Facebook getting their code rejected 35% more than their male colleagues but with code being accepted at a higher rate for females when their gender is hidden.
Then we have the interview process. I myself have not responded to recruiter emails for large corporations because I don’t want to go through their extremely intensive interview process. Solving algorithms on whiteboards, having to memorise syntax perfectly for multiple languages is not a real life job scenario and puts off many people, especially minorities. This robotic style hiring process will only hire a certain type of employee and not necessarily the best employees.
Women are a minority in technology and this isn’t going to change overnight, however companies can definitely attract more women and other minorities with changes to their recruitment process.
Don’t be so black and white with job descriptions. Make it clear that you will be taking their skills as a whole into consideration and that they do not have to tick every single box.
Don’t expect every candidate to possess the same skills during interviews. Many large corporations will expect perfect interview performance, thinking that they’re setting a high bar. In reality they are hiring candidates that are good at exam like conditions and have spent a lot of time memorising algorithms, rather than varied skillsets.
Test the candidates how they’ll be tested in their jobs. Developers come across things every day that they haven’t used before. A good developer uses their skills to research and solve problems in the best way possible. Exam-like conditions are not a good indication of how a candidate will perform in every day scenarios. Give them the freedom that they would have in their job to really get the best out of people.
Treat candidates like humans. Don’t treat them like your time is worth more than theirs. I’ve heard of people even getting through to final stages of interviews after months worth of preparation and then never hearing back. Although larger companies may think that this doesn’t matter as they always have applicants, they will be losing out on hard to come by minorities who may be a good fit in the future. They could also lose out on prospective applicants who hear about the bad experience from others.