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4 Ways to Attract More Female Applicants at Your Next Recruiting Session

Ji-A Min

Data Scientist at Ideal

The lack of women in tech is a growing concern. An analysis of half a billion candidate profiles by Entelo found that only 18 percent of tech roles, including positions in engineering, data science and product are held by women in the U.S., and the statistics are even more bleak in the C-Suite—only 10 percent of tech leaders are female.

But why is this happening?

While there are undoubtedly many reasons, a recent paper published by Alison Wynn—a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Clayman Institute for Gender Research—which used observational data from 84 Bay Area tech companies' school recruiting sessions found that certain recruiting practices may be partly to blame for this gender disparity.

The paper found that a disproportionate number of the speakers at these recruiting sessions were male and when female recruiters did attend, they only talked about tech 22 percent of the time (instead tasked primarily with discussing company culture).

Increasing the number of women in technology jobs starts with improving the pipeline to get them there. Here are four strategies to help eliminate bias in your recruiting sessions, and bring more women on board.

1) Explain Your Company's Real-World Impact

One of the most dramatic observations that the Clayman Institute study made was that female students become highly engaged when recruiters demonstrat how the technological challenges that their companies solve can make a real-world impact. When real-world impact was discussed, female students asked questions during 65 percent of sessions. Students asked questions during only 36 percent of sessions without real-world context, however.

Some research indicates that due to their more prosocial motivation, women are typically more attracted to the social impact of a company's products or services than men. To resonate with them, make the application of your business in the real world clear. For example, does your company build self-driving cars? Highlight that self-driving automobiles could save up to 29,447 lives a year in the U.S.

2) Make Diversity a Strategic Goal

While organizations claim that diversity is a priority for them, many nevertheless fall short. An Allegis survey recently found that while 72 percent of respondents reported having a diversity and inclusion strategy in place—or at least working on one—only 37 percent said diversity plays a role in their hiring goals. To attract more female candidates, this has to change. Diversity of all kinds must become a strategic hiring goal, and must be supported from the very top of an organization.

Start small and simple: focus on a quantifiable, realistic hiring goal. For example, aim to increase female hires in tech-related positions by 10 percent over the course of six months. Then, figure out a game plan that'll help you reach your goal. It may entail adopting de-biasing software or opening up your sourcing pools to include more diverse candidates. Consider hosting a recruitment event at an all-girls college, or work with sororities and other female-centric organizations to schedule recruitment sessions.

3) Empower Existing Female Employees

Diversity attracts diversity, so to attract more female candidates during your recruiting sessions, encourage your existing female employees to play an active role. If they've had a positive experience at your company, they'll have no qualms about singing your praises, but if they've had negative experiences, you're in trouble.

An Indeed survey found only 49 percent of women believe that both genders are treated equally in the workplace. That perception may be accurate: 36 percent of women say they're paid less than their male counterparts and 59 percent of women report receiving fewer opportunities than men.

How can companies fix this? Assess and audit the current state of the workplace environment and implement practices that make both genders feel equal. Offer structured performance appraisals and promotion systems that force managers to analyze and justify their decisions to offer raises, develop a mentorship program that's monitored for equal gender participation and use surveys to collect employee feedback on gender issues.

4) Vow to Change the Status Quo

Not every company's tech team is gender-diverse. Don't be afraid to address that elephant in the room—point out your lack of gender representation and emphasize that your company is motivated to change this. Lay out the strategy for diversifying the team, and explain how new recruits can help drive change internally.

If you want to recruit more women in tech, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. Take these four recommendations and implement them at your next school recruiting session, measure their impact and iterate from there.

Photo: Twenty20

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