As a woman in tech, it’s undeniable companies are struggling to attract and recruit women for tech roles in their field. The challenge to balance out diversity increases turnover with 41% of women quitting their jobs. Compare this to the 17% of men who quit and it clearly shows the gender disparity and how underrepresented women are.
Claire Cain Miller recently wrote an article for the New York Times using research from Payscale where she discovered even the largest tech giants struggle to diversify their teams. Miller stated “women only account for a quarter of all employees at Apple, Google, Facebook, Oracle and Microsoft.”
According to IBM’s blog developerWorks, women make up less than 20% of the tech sector. It’s no secret tech has always been male-dominated with the number of applicants per position being a stark reminder of the growing gender gap. Companies with a diverse workplace experience an array of benefits such as increased profits, reduced turnover, improved employee engagement and a wide range of skills just to name a few.
Here are the 4 reasons why you might be failing to attract and recruit women in tech
Undeveloped Career Paths
One of the main reasons women leave their job in tech is due to the lack of advancement within their field. Candidates today take the time to research companies they want to work for. If they see the leadership team is dominated by males, they’re less likely to pursue an opportunity with the company due to little confidence in an upward career trajectory.
Indeed surveyed 1,000 women in tech and found “lack of career growth is the most common reason why women leave tech jobs.” This proves there’s a discrepancy versus what companies believe women want and what women actually want. Most companies believe their turnover is a direct result of women not having adequate parental leave policies. Indeed laid this to rest with only 2% of women indicating this was actually the case.
The reality is, women struggle to make the leap into management roles, according to a report done by Women in the Workplace. The report went on to say women only hold 38% of manager positions. The gender gap makes them far less likely to be hired and promoted into managerial roles due to a majority of men holding and being favored for high-level positions.
Outdated Gender-Biased Job Descriptions
Job descriptions have a major impact on whether a woman applies for a role. Companies can easily alienate female candidates simply by the use of language and requirements in their job descriptions. If men are writing the job descriptions, they unknowingly are likely to lean towards gender-biased words in the titles, descriptions and use of pronouns.
Harvard Business Review explored the shocking statistic of women only applying for jobs when they meet 100% of the qualifications while men apply even if they only meet 60%. Through their research, they found it wasn’t due to the confidence gap but their inability to meet all of the qualifications listed. Women will only apply to positions where they feel they meet all of the requirements and guidelines about who should apply.
Researchers at Waterloo and Duke University conducted five studies identifying job descriptions that used gender aggressive and “language of power inequality send a message to women that they’re not welcome.” Shanely Kane reminds companies, it takes more than just fixing the language of a job description to make women feel welcome. It requires company cultures to adjust and promote the empowerment and inclusion of women altogether.
Untapped Recruiting Outlets
It’s not uncommon for companies to have referral programs in place for their employees, but where they fall behind is how they utilize them. Referral programs are broad by nature. HR can create more targeted recruiting strategies by increasing their referral bonuses for women. IBM has done a brilliant job redefining their referral program to double the bonus for any employees who refer women and minorities.
Keith Johnstone, Head of Marketing at Peak Sales Recruiting, encourages companies to restructure their current referral programs making them more inclusive of women. He states the benefit of doing so helps companies to expand their network and put them in front of talent they might have otherwise missed.
Johnstone also goes on to mention the positive benefits of tapping into creative sourcing methods. Traditional recruiting methods relied solely on technical universities such as Stanford and MIT as well as job boards such as GitHub and Stack Overflow. Johnstone recommends focusing on female-driven communities such as Women Who Code, Tech Women, National Center for Women & Information Technology and Black Girls Code to name a few. The key is finding where women are hanging out, whether it be locally or online, and making it a point to be actively present.
Lack of an Online Presence
Change isn’t an overnight solution. It’s an effort that takes time, patience and dedication. A poor online presence is just as bad as no presence at all. Companies with female-led initiatives who actively market them experience greater success capturing women than those who don’t.
The Silicon Valley Chief Operating Officer of Dynamic Signal, An Le, embodies a strong female culture with 40% of their women being in leadership roles. They have several initiatives geared towards closing the gender gap and leading a more diverse culture. Some of these initiatives include an active women focused employee resource group named Women of DySi, promoting their women employees across their social media platforms and partnering with organizations such as Path Forwarddedicated to helping women returning to work find jobs in tech.
Their Glassdoor page showcases over 80 reviews with a majority of them speaking highly to the inclusive culture, supportive leadership team and opportunity for growth within. Women from every department as well as every level of seniority are actively involved in their internal women-focused group, Women of Dysi.
Women of Dysi hosts internal events featuring powerful female leaders throughout Silicon Valley to speak to their female employees on topics about empowerment, career pathing, leadership, investing and mentorship. The Head of Communications also delivers training and support to nurture the development of her female colleagues.
The first step companies should take to improve their current situation and increase women-held roles is to acknowledge the disparity. Once they recognize and acknowledge this, they can work toward building a more diverse workplace with a pipeline of women and minorities as job candidates. Companies will have greater success by creating an environment where women are inclusive and supported.
This article originally appeared on forbes.com