The software industry leads the way when it comes to innovation and disruption. It’s certainly helping businesses stay connected while we all transition to remote working. So it’s strange that such a forward thinking industry is so far behind when it comes to closing the gender gap. Women only account for around 16.8% of total workers in the UK tech sector and 23% in the US. And the proportion of women working in specialist roles fall as seniority rises.
A recent PWC study found that 78% of students couldn’t name a single famous female working in technology and only 3% of females claim a career in tech would be their first choice.
What can we do to help close this gap and inspire more females to work in tech again - after all women were a critical part of the computing sector during World War II and until the 1960s.
There are many areas to inspire young girls to explore IT, one is through stories. Parents are likely to talk about rockets to the moon, some may talk about the first man on the moon so why not mention the women who got them there too, such as Katherine Johnson and Margaret Hamilton.
Being mindful of the stories we tell our children is important to ensure they get a balanced view of a woman’s role in the world. There is a range of books celebrating female achievements in Science such as Woman in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World or Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.
Encouraging girls, as well as boys, to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through play has a positive impact too. There are many toys on the market to help develop these skills, the most obvious one being Lego, which is loved by all.
But what can businesses do to attract more females into these traditionally male dominated roles and sectors?
We focus very strongly on creating a gender balanced team here at Capsule and now over a third (34%) of the team are women. While this is a higher proportion than some tech companies, we still have some work to do. Here’s what we’ve been doing to increase the number of females applying for a role.
First we changed the way we advertise jobs. We read research that found the author of a job description will unintentionally use gender bias language when writing a post. When we realized we were using more masculine language to advertise opportunities we stripped it out and used this tool to check we were on the right track.
Research shows that when women apply for jobs, they feel they need to meet every single criteria on the description while men usually apply after meeting about 60%.
When we reviewed our job posts, they were a bit too prescriptive about the skills required with not enough emphasis on what life is like at Capsule. It seemed the wrong way to attract people to our company, especially knowing what we did about tick-lists putting women off applying.
As a result, we took out the bullet point lists of the things ‘you need to do’ and replaced them with more of a story around the job along with what it is like to work at Capsule. We wanted to help candidates see how well they would fit into the organization.
Our posts are now more balanced and welcoming. They cover things like what you’ll do day-to-day, the tools we use, how we decide what to work on, how we manage releases, and what to expect from your co-workers. We get a good mix of people applying and are more confident we’re attracting the right person for the job.
We changed our approach to interviews too. They are more of a two-way discussion now, where candidates have the opportunity to see if our culture will work for them and we get to see if they will work well with us too.
Our discussions highlight Capsule’s inclusive approach which underpins our ethos and describe our flexible approach to work and sharp focus on team bonding – which are appealing to both male and female workers.
As we attract more females, it’s now much easier for us to give a woman’s perspective of what it’s like to work at Capsule. Candidates are encouraged to chat with the female members of the team to get an idea of what it’s like to work with us before they make the decision to join.
The first place people usually visit when applying for a job is your website. It was important for us to rewrite part of our marketing site to include more pictures of our female team and avoid stereotype-reinforcing images.
We try to demonstrate what it’s like to work at Capsule online to give candidates a good feel for our business before they meet us. When we do invite people into the business, feedback is positive and candidates say our welcoming approach matches their expectations.
We benefit greatly from more gender diversity in Capsule. Simply having different points of view is immensely helpful when we face business or development challenges, as you get a new perspective.
As we recruit more females to Capsule we grow the number of role models in the business so those interested in applying for a role will be inspired to see so many women in a variety of roles. We still have a way to go with the gender balance but we are much further along than we were just 12 months ago. We know the proactive actions we’ve taken do work and we are sure there are others we can implement too.
There are an extraordinary amount of tech job vacancies alongside a shortfall of women leaving university with appropriate qualifications. The tech industry faces the dual challenge of hiring employees with much-needed skills and narrowing the gender gap in an overwhelmingly male sector.
Here at Capsule, we’re doing our bit to attract more females to our industry and we know other businesses are too. Let us know what you’re doing in your company to close the gender gap so we can continue to learn from each other and help improve those statistics.