Sponsorship isn't enough: Why Tech Companies Are Failing To Attract Female Engineers

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There's a big problem affecting nearly every tech company in the Bay Area. This talk is how to bring together talented people together with opportunities at fantastic tech companies. Sounds pretty straightforward right?

That problem is hiring developers. Or it could be looked at as a surplus of jobs. A quick search on popular job boards shows thousands of open jobs in the Bay Area for developers and engineers of all sorts of backgrounds.

According to some reports, the US is in the middle of a talent shortage when it comes to software engineers and STEM talent. We’re also told there is a “skills gap” in the workforce while others write it all off as validation for companies to get more visa’s for their workers and yet there are qualified candidates with Computer Science degrees right here in America being passed up. Why?

All very complex and political so today we’re going to stick to practical things everyone in this room can do once they leave the conference to ensure there are more female engineers working in tech.

This talk will explore how assumptions, bias and stereotypes are causing the reported talent shortage in tech.

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  • Today I’m going to talk about a big problem affecting nearly every tech company in the Bay Area. I’m going to talk about how to bring talented people together with opportunities at fantastic tech companies. Sounds pretty straightforward right?
  • That problem is hiring developers. Or it could be looked at as a surplus of jobs. A quick search on popular job boards shows thousands of open jobs in the Bay Area for developers and engineers of all sorts of backgrounds.
  • According to the US Department of Labor, people working in and pursing opportunities as software developers will continue to see growth in their career choice. Meanwhile Aerospace Engineers will experience lower than average growth of just 7%. The average growth rate for all occupations is 11 percent. Mechanical and Nuclear Engineers don’t fare much better.
  • Did you know that nearly 40% of the world’s population is online? That’s about 3 Billion people! I mean it seems like a really great time to be working in the tech industry. I’ve been working in tech since 1998 and I look forward everyday to helping someone have their “Ah ha!” moment with technology. Meanwhile there are 1.1 Billion people who don’t have access to clean drinking water, according to the World Water Council. I mean how does that even work?
  • So the basics are hiring talent, getting traction and increasing the value of the company aka Hockey Stick Exits like this one
  • Oh right, but you need a key ingredient there….Developers! There continues to be this false belief all you have to do is post a job and developers will show up. It doesn’t work that way as both men and women working in tech are like deer; you don’t want to startle them when they first see you.
  • According to some reports, the US is in the middle of a talent shortage when it comes to software engineers and STEM talent. We’re also told there is a “skills gap” in the workforce while others write it all off as validation for companies to get more visa’s for their workers. All very complex and political so today we’re going to stick to practical things everyone in this room can do once they leave the conference to ensure there are more female engineers working in tech.
  • It turns out they want to do something that matters and it’s pretty straightforward
  • While there still are a lot of misconception about what men and women want in the workplace, their goals are actually very similar. How to attract smart and talented people to your company. Besides first world problems, people want to be a part of something bigger than their selves.
  • Seriously, it’s 2015 so let’s get real and face that many of us carry around internal bias that affect our decisions. Don’t think so? Check out this study.
  • The National Academy of Science did a study to better understand the gender disparities in the academic sciences. This was a double-blind study.
  • The compensation gap was significant as well with the male student being recommended to start at $3k and the female student at times nearly $5k less at $25k. Compounded, this biases have the potential to affect one’s career trajectory simply based on gender.
  • Yet we’re being told that compensation is improving for women. Not in the tech sector. The American Human Development Project released that in some cases women in Silicon Valley are earning 0.49 on the dollar to men yet the same study says that for every 100 men who get a bachelor’s degree today, 134 women do.
  • The High tech pay gap is a real thing, especially when you consider not only gender but race as well. This chart is from a study conducted by the American Institute for Economic Research and was used in an article by USAToday. Add in sexual orientation and the disparity grows even wider
  • Why is this happening? It may be due to pervasive stereotypes that both men and women hold about women’s priorities. 20 years later, it turns out that a majority of Harvard Business School graduates still believe that women make family a priority over work although research shows that professional and professional goals don’t vary by much based on gender. Why does this still exist?
  • I’m just going to call this section, “Get Geeky” basically your goal is to make sure you have content and infornation that allows developers and engineers to get a sense of your technology
  • Etsy and AirBnb both have great examples
  • Twilio does a fantastic job of combining content and technical tutorials which often reference their open source projects
  • in favor of content and interactions that resonate.
  • Long and uses duration of experience as qualifiers. It’s not only hard to figure out if this is a job you’re qualified for but also if it’s a job you would want to do.
  • In fact, that job description reminds me of the ones many of us in this room have probably made about the ideal traits in our partner. Here a 9 year old girl wrote out a list of things for her future boyfriend. #13 is Don’t pick your nose. Very important!
  • Karen Show-L-Cough, a digital strategist who works in tech, helping startups to build authentic relationships with their customers was fed up with all this mumbo jumbo about finding qualified women and put together HIRE MORE WOMEN IN TECH.COM to explain what attracts and repels women to tech companies. She has a fantastic section about job descriptions and why the language is important
  • For example, Pamela Marie on Twitter said -- "Work hard play hard," etc turns me off. "We value learning," is inviting. Many people commented they did not like rockstar / ninja / superhero in job descriptions while “Learning” and “collaboration” were attractants
  • As an example, this tweet I composed received a lot of circulation and engagement. I thought about the type of people who applied for fellowships at Code for America and framed the messaging with a strong Call To Action. Lesson: Posting Job openings aren’t enough, you need to speak to the personal values of developers
  • I really wish I saw more of this, especially for women.
  • What do women want in the workplace? Referring back to the Bentley University study, we see that both men and women find it important. Millenials, both women and men from that group have similar expectations that at work
  • While it is tempting to work at shiny tech companies, eventually that wears off and reality sets in as culture begins to wane and profits aren’t realized. People just want a good place to work. Twitter: More than a year after its much-hyped IPO, Instagram: Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion back in 2012, Snapchat: At $10 billion, fast-growing Snapchat is one of the world's most valuable private tech startups. Yet the messaging service generates little revenue -- let alone profits
  • Bad press can discourage both men and women interested working at your tech startup from applying
  • A developer friend told me that their company spends nearly 100 engineer hours for each new hire. That’s insane! That can be improved dramatically by iterating your processes and looping developers into the hiring workflow.
  • Make every mentoring relationship reciprocal. 360 Mentoring
  • People want to know who their co-workers are. Not just the “thought leaders” at a company. By creating authentic opportunities for a Venn diagram overlap of existing developers and the talented ones who don’t work for you yet, you’ll increase your chances of getting better quality applicants, with more diverse backgrounds and spend less time and money doing it.
  • Sponsorship isn't enough: Why Tech Companies Are Failing To Attract Female Engineers

    1. 1. Sponsorship isn't enough: Why Tech Companies Are Failing To Attract Female Engineers Lesbians Who Tech 2015 SF Summit by Adria Richards
    2. 2. 3 3 Billion People Worldwide Internet Access http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/
    3. 3. Talent + Traction + Valuation = Awesome Startup!
    4. 4. 1. What Developers Want In the Workplace
    5. 5. 84% said that “knowing I am helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important to me than professional recognition.” http://www.bentley.edu/centers/center-for-women-and-business/millennials-workplace
    6. 6. 2. Offer competitive and equal salaries for all genders
    7. 7. 127 professors in biology, chemistry or physics were asked to review student applications for a lab manager position in a double-blind study Professors asked to evaluate things: - Competence - Hireability - Salary Recommendation - Amount of mentoring they would give
    8. 8. The scientists rated the male student more competent, more likely to be hired, deserving of a better salary, and worth spending more time mentoring. Male faculty rated male student 4.01 and female student 3.33 Female faculty rated male student 4.10 and female student 3.32
    9. 9. 77% of HBS graduates overall—73% of men and 85% of women—believe that “prioritizing family over work” is the number one barrier to women’s career advancement https://hbr.org/2014/12/rethink-what-you-know-about-high-achieving-women
    10. 10. 3. Serenade Geeky Women and Men with your code
    11. 11. Maintain A Company Blog Focused on Technology and Developers
    12. 12. Have Open Source Company Projects
    13. 13. Talent knocking at your door
    14. 14. 4. Overhaul your job descriptions and recruiting methods
    15. 15. Kitchen Sink Job Postings
    16. 16. Source - Examiner:9 year old shares list of 'boyfriend rules' with 6 year old sis. Brilliant! Remember these lists?
    17. 17. http://www.hiremorewomenintech.com/
    18. 18. Actively promote from within
    19. 19. Companies risk the loss of men as well as women by not allowing employees to accommodate personal and family values as part of the way they accomplish their work. http://www.bentley.edu/centers/center-for-women-and-business/millennials-workplace
    20. 20. http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/23/investing/shazam-tech-startups-lose-money/
    21. 21. Don’t just sponsor, send developers! Have your developers meet their potential and future co-workers at a low pressure tech events your company is sponsoring. Build rapport, Build trust.
    22. 22. 5. Offer unique yet valuable perks
    23. 23. Curate a culture of mentoring, both up and down
    24. 24. Great health insurance that covers partners, Transgender health services and maternity leave for all genders
    25. 25. Support Lifelong Learning "ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifelong_learning
    26. 26. And Finally…
    27. 27. Update your ‘About Us’ pages and stock photography to be more inclusive and not just highlighting the ‘rock star’ founders
    28. 28. Thank you! Adria Richards Twitter:@adriarichards Email: adria@butyoureagirl.com

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