How to increase women in tech
Women are underrepresented not only in tech leadership and professional positions but also in most online forums. Here are six ways to raise awareness of opportunities in the tech sector and grow female engagement with online services, forums and tech jobs.
Girls have frequently been steered away from STEM subjects and towards artistic, literary and administrative-type education. Increasing access to tech education early and throughout girls’ education, as well as encouraging them in that path, is a good first step. Outside the classroom, hackathons, boot camps, and workshops offer accessible, fun and social learning environments.
Technology companies can market themselves directly to women as potential employees and customers. Women outnumber men on most social media, and are more highly engaged. Companies can raise the visibility of jobs or products on social media, even targeting content to women, either by design or through paid advertising targeting. Video maker software from Biteable can be used to create attractive and appealing multimedia content and take advantage of the algorithmic benefit of video on social channels such as Facebook.
Tech sector jobs tend to offer better compensation, benefits and perks than other professional roles. Highlight the rewards when targeting job ads to women, and review your compensation, benefits and perks for gender equality. Consider whether benefits or perks are unevenly distributed by gender and adjust if necessary. Women, like men, trade their skills for rewards that meet their needs or appeal to them. Find the right reward, and you’ll increase the female to male employee ratio.
Not all women are mothers or caregivers, or will ever experience those demands on their time, but there is a statistical preference for flexibility at work in both hours and location. This fits with a wider employee preference for flexibility and more reasonable work hours with less overtime. Nevertheless, offering remote work, less than full-time hours, the ability to work a flexible schedule, and making it clear that constant overtime is neither required nor expected can make tech jobs more attractive to women, as well as to men.
Relationships and mentorship help women find jobs in the tech sector and grow in their careers. Progress is being made, with formal incubators, professional speed dating, boot camps, clubs and academies with built-in chances to connect, and professional organisations to foster support among women professionals in tech. Companies can get involved by sponsoring these organisations, and by encouraging and supporting staff to get involved in networking and mentorship opportunities.
Reframe your business in terms of what problems you solve, who you help, and what your mission is. Women, and a growing contingent of men, are motivated by work that will be appealing, challenging and meaningful. Identify your core values and purpose, and use storytelling in advertising, job postings and social media to communicate these. Video is an ideal format for capturing an inspiring story and making an emotional argument.
We can grow the proportion of women in tech through a multidimensional approach that increases and improves access to education, networking and mentorship, and reframing career opportunities to meet the needs of a wider pool of candidates.
Author: Sophie Irons