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The gender gap in tech is getting worse but it's fixable

Sharon Florentine | Oct. 27, 2016
New research from Accenture and Girls Who Code, released at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing last week, reveals that the gender gap in tech is actually getting worse. Here's what you can do to fix it.

The panel also discussed how to improve the recruiting, interviewing and hiring process once women enter the technology workforce, including removing gendered language from job descriptions and educating hiring managers and HR professionals on "what not to do" in an interview.

"One company we worked with asked how they could improve the quality of their interview questions to remove bias. In the course of this conversation, one of the recruiters realized they'd been trying to start by finding a common ground with interviewees -- by asking questions about baseball teams. Now, there are plenty of women who like baseball, but this is a pretty solid example of a way to be exclusionary before you even start. Thankfully, they were able to see that and change their approach for the future," Saujani says.

Leadership lessons

Many organizations, including Pinterest, are hiring executives to oversee their diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives and to provide more public accountability, says Pinterest's Candace Morgan.

"When it comes to a company's leadership, you have to have your commitment reflected in the highest levels. The CEO's job is to set the direction that company will take and is accountable to that. But the CEO will get counsel from their CFO about finance. They'll get counsel from their chief legal executive about matters of law. They get counsel from their chief marketing officer about marketing -- that's what the role of a D&I executive is, and it's so important," Morgan says.

In addition, Pinterest piloted an apprenticeship program to target women career-changers or women who'd graduated from a bootcamp or other non-traditional educational institution, she says.

"We know many engineers don't have that formal education, and that's OK. We're looking for people who have skills and experience from bootcamps and other programs. Women can apply to Pinterest as an apprentice, and we bring you on, pair you up with an existing team member and you are assigned to an engineering team. After three months, you have the opportunity to transition to a full-time role at the company," Morgan says.

Recognize, too, that D&I isn't just a job for HR, but for everyone at all levels of the organization says Accenture's Sweet. To that end, Accenture recently tripled the referral bonus for any employee who referred a potential employee from an underrepresented group, she says.

"We recognized that referrals often are the source of our best hires, and we already reward that with a bonus. But we are now launching an initiative to triple the bonus for employees that refer women, candidates with disabilities, veterans, people of color or other underrepresented minorities to increase the amount of diverse candidates in the pipeline. So often we hear, 'Why didn't HR send me any diverse candidates?' and we think it's not only HR's job to do that -- it's everyone's job, at every level," Sweet says.


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