It’s March and spring is in the air! It’s also Women’s History Month. Did you know that it grew first from one day, then to one week, until people agreed it deserved an entire month? Congress declared March 1987 as the first official Women’s History Month.
Here at Ghostery, we’ve specifically been celebrating women in tech this month, because we know there’s still a long way to go for gender balance.
According to “Gender Balance in Mars Exploration: Lessons Learned from the Mars Science Laboratory,” the “systematic lack of recruitment, promotion, and retention of women in STEM is a concern, and the existing cultural, structural, institutional, and societal barriers that hinder gender balance are being extensively investigated.”
This problem is not specific to space exploration. Women in tech careers, therefore, also face unique challenges in the workplace. According to an in-depth analysis in The Atlantic, women are hired in lower numbers than men and leave tech at more than twice the rate men do.
Here are just some of the frustrating-yet-real reasons why:
- Studies show that women who work in tech are interrupted in meetings more often.
- Women are evaluated on personality in a way that men are not — with many female CIOs admitting they have to pick their battles from the C-suite.
- Women are less likely to get funding from venture capitalists. However, women-owned startups are usually better — when women do get funded, their companies “ultimately deliver higher revenue — more than twice as much per dollar invested,” according to a Boston Consulting Group analysis.
- Women’s contributions to open-source software are accepted more often than men’s are, but only if their gender is unknown. According to a study of GitHub users, code written by women was accepted 78.6% of the time (4% more than code written by men) but the rates worked only when the programmer’s gender was unknown. Some think women are better coders, period.
All Nerds Are Not Welcome in Silicon Valley
When it comes to getting women into technology roles, some think the issue is a lack of commitment to retaining female talent.
Based on a 2020 report from Accenture, half of young women entering tech jobs will leave before the age of 35, primarily due to non-inclusive company cultures. It’s not a pipeline problem, either, as 35%-40% of computer science graduates are women.
“There’s a huge attrition problem that we have to solve, and that’s a culture problem. Women are not supported. People of color are not supported. All nerds are not welcome in Silicon Valley,” says Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code.
Looking at Anti-Bias Apps
According to the Center for Creative Leadership, organizations should train hiring staff about unconscious bias. Taking that a step further, companies should also consider blind recruitment and other ways to level the playing field.
Let’s take a look at a few anti-bias apps and platforms that are working behind the scenes to keep women from being undermined. Remember, how women are recruited is just as important as how they’re retained.
Job Analyzer. This tool suggests inclusivity-friendly phrases, allowing organizations and recruiters to write more neutral job descriptions that results in a more diverse talent pool.
GapJumpers. This tool hides résumés and personal details until after the job applicant performs a skills-based test.
Interviewing.io. This interviewing platform gives a lens into the kinds of questions from top tech companies. Candidates can become comfortable with answering in a low-pressure, anonymous setting.
MeVitae. Technology that uses computational linguistics to spot and remove personal details. Among other features of its blind recruiting software, the technology blocks 15+ protected characteristics directly from any CV and cover letter in seconds.
Project Include. Provides companies and investors with a template for how to be better — its mission is to give everyone a fair chance to succeed in tech. Its CEO, Ellen Pao, was recently named in Technology Magazine’s definitive list of the Top Women in Technology.
Choose to Challenge
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, part of Women’s History Month events, was “choose to challenge”–which means to call out gender bias and inequality. And of course, seek out and celebrate women’s achievements.
If you’re ready to share your personal successes and/or offer some advice to women entering the tech industry, we’d love to hear from you.