What Companies can do to Encourage Women into Tech

As a business, what can you do to attract women in tech roles?

It seems that the tech industry has faced the same overwhelming issue for a number of years now, that being the lack of women currently working within the industry, and the low numbers interested in pursuing a future career in tech.

We attended the Manchester Digital Skills Conference back in February, where we listened to a number of thought-leading professionals discussing the underlying problem and its consequences on the industry and economy.

But what is it exactly, that’s deterring women from working in tech? Find out more about the general perceptions from women concerning tech, the issues that it’s creating and what we in business can and should be doing, to help resolve this major problem.

Women see the tech industry as patronising

There’s been a lot of research carried out, to find out what women think about the tech industry and why they choose to follow another career path instead. What stands out from these studies, is that attempts to persuade women to follow a career in tech, often come across as patronising and condescending.

IBM, in particular, have been labelled patronising by women across social media, after their “hack a hairdryer” YouTube video backfired, for assuming that women can only be persuaded to work in tech, with stereotypically feminine context.

How are these perceptions affecting the industry?

Without women in tech, the industry misses out on much-needed diversity that can bring about a wider range of skills and approaches to the work it carries out. Without women in tech, the skills gap continues to increase and reduces the likelihood of tech succeeding in the future.

Women play a huge role in the future growth of the tech industry and as such, businesses need to be making an effort to encourage these individuals towards roles within the sector.

What can businesses do to encourage women into tech?

1) Understand the level of gender diversity in your own business

First of all, it’s a good idea to consider the level of gender diversity in your own business and explore whether there is any room for improvement. Discuss with your team how they feel about the working environment, the company culture and how they personally feel things could be improved, to develop a strategy that could encourage more women towards tech roles within your own company. Not only that, but any stereotypical behaviour within your current team needs to be explored and addressed.

2) Coaching and mentoring

If you already have a wealth of women working in tech, great! However, there are many businesses losing women employed in tech roles, due to the lack of coaching, mentoring and development opportunities available to them.

Another reason why companies are failing to attract women towards tech roles, is the small amount of female tech leaders. Offering coaching and development, with a view to progressing women towards more senior or managerial roles, could not only help to increase the number of leading women in the industry, but also retain current employees and attract more women to follow in their footsteps.

3) Work closely with higher education and other institutions

From the Manchester Digital Skills Conference, we discovered that many younger women studying at college, university and specialised schools, are unaware that the skills they possess could lead to a career in tech.

Through developing a closer working relationship between businesses and academic institutions, women could develop a greater understanding of the variety of roles on offer to them, when choosing to pursue a career in tech. Consider participating in guest lectures, offering work experience or even a year’s full-time paid placement, to strengthen awareness and encourage younger women towards tech after graduation.

4) Don’t focus all your efforts on younger women

Whilst encouraging younger women is crucial, so is attracting women who are returning to work after a career break. They should be able to return to work with a certainty that they will be supported and be able to continue advancing their careers.

Some more mature women also choose to make changes to their career path and with their previous experience in another role or sector, bring with them years of developed skills and attributes that could strengthen the tech industry.

5) Consider the way in which you advertise tech roles

A study by Hewlett Packard (HP) found that when considering career paths and particular roles of interest, men are more likely to apply for jobs which they possess 60% of its requirements, whereas women will only apply when they are sure they meet 100% of them. This way of thinking deters many women from applying for roles in tech, creating an unrealistic perception of working in the industry.

Considering the way in which you advertise your tech roles could have a dramatic impact on the amount of women applying to work for you. Is there any way of rephrasing certain requirements to make them seem less specific or intense? Or are there any elements which you could omit, to then discuss further during the interviewing phase of recruitment? Simple changes could put a stop to brilliantly qualified women being deterred from applying for your roles.

There’s an abundance of ways in which companies can encourage women to pursue a career in the tech industry. While these are just a few helpful tips to move your company in the right direction, we are always more than happy to discuss ways in which you can attract female candidates to your tech roles, so feel free to get in touch!

Written by Rachel Campbell

 

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