NCWIT Tips for Startup Members: To Hire Technical Women, Don’t Look for Ninjas, Audit Your Office Vibe
September 12, 2013
NCWIT Tips is a series of action items to help you implement or improve recruitment and retention practices, avoid unconscious bias, manage talent, and more.
To Hire Technical Women, Don’t Look for Ninjas.
You may think terms like “rockstar” and “ninja” are just hip ways to describe a good developer, but if you’re using these terms in your job listings, you may be sending a subtle message that women need not apply. Researcher Aaron Kay has found that an imbalanced use of “masculine”-associated words, particularly when used for job ads in male-dominated fields like tech, reduces the number of women who apply for these jobs — even if those women believe they’re qualified — because they don’t perceive they would fit in with your company culture.
Try to use a balance of “masculine” and “feminine” or more neutral wording in your job posts, to ensure you’re not implying a subtle bias.
Audit your descriptions for unnecessary qualifiers that might carry gender connotations.
Remember that women tend to underestimate their qualifications whereas men often overestimate theirs.
Do your cubicle walls feature decorations suitable for a man cave? Do your engineers and marketing people sit on opposite sides of the room? You might be surprised to know that physical environment counts for a lot when it comes to attracting (and deterring) technical women employees. Research has shown that your physical office space sends subtle cues, and if these cues perpetuate a stereotype of technology that is heavily gendered, the minority gender can feel pretty uncomfortable. Make sure you’re communicating that your office welcomes all different kinds of people, and that you intend for those people to work together harmoniously.
Aim for neutral or a wide range of decor.
Insist on professional standards of cleanliness.
Establish rules about personalization of spaces, including respectful decorations.
Consider seating arrangements that integrate teams (and genders).