At this point, hearing someone say how competitive the hiring market is for tech may induce an eye roll, a groan and a “Tell us something we don’t know” from fellow recruiters and employers. Companies are fighting to win over (er, poach) their next potential hire from a million other suitors with promises of crazy-generous salaries and uber-luxurious perks (though whether these things are making workers happy in the long run is debatable), and to top it off, they’re faced with a growing STEM skills gap and hiring managers who demand a laundry list of skills on a bottom-dollar budget.
It’s safe to say recruiting in the tech industry can be a somewhat of a nightmare. Yet, it’s also clear that embracing diversity as an organization is essential to remaining competitive in the global economy.
While most employers would agree diversity in the workforce is both beneficial and needed in an era of skills shortages and cutthroat competition, a glaring oversight in the search for great tech candidates remains. Where are the women?
Half of our society’s greatest minds belong to women – and those minds help drive scientific, cultural and technological breakthroughs every single day. So, then, it’s puzzling that in the tech industry — an industry that thrives on innovation and creativity – the percentages of women filling tech roles is downright depressing. The gender breakdown below shows that in 2015, only a quarter of computer-related occupations nationwide are filled by females – and some say the stats on women in tech are actually getting worse.
Nationwide Computer Occupation Gender Breakdown; Computer Occupations (15-1100). Source: EMSI Analyst
Where to Start
When it comes to a strategy for recruiting more women in tech, an eye toward soon-to-be graduates is a great place to begin. With the help of EMSI’s College Analyst, recruiters and employers can easily determine which institutions to target, based on various factors such as graduation rates of women in certain majors. Tools like this can make it a lot easier to hire for entry-level positions for your tech teams, or to seek out and recruit recent graduates with the degree and skills you’re looking for in a particular position (and you can filter results by gender, race or ethnicity).
The table below, for example, shows the top five public and private not-for-profit universities that graduated women in computer and information science programs in California in 2014. Using this data, any company interested in hiring female tech talent can see that University of Southern California, Stanford, and University of California-Berkeley are great resources of female talent.
Top 5 Public and Private Not-for-Profit Universities in California for Women; Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services (11). Source: EMSI College Analyst
Developing Your Strategy
As an employer or recruiter, you can use information like this to develop your college recruitment strategy. Benchmark against the schools with the highest ROI to learn what you’re up against and what kinds of numbers you should be striving for – and in which areas. If you are in an area with a dearth of any tech talent, let alone female tech talent, you can use College Analyst to determine where you may need to widen your geographic scope. And don’t forget – you won’t be the only employer targeting these soon-to-be graduates, so working to build your employment brand on campuses to become the employer of choice for female tech-related majors is a vital next step in the process.
Change the Ratio
Getting more women into tech roles IS possible – and not just possible, but within reach. If you are a woman who is already working in the technology space, you have the power to use your influence to encourage other women to explore technology careers. Share the gospel of your tech career: Start — and don’t stop — talking to others about why you love working in tech and why they might, too. Become a mentor. Network with other women and men in the field – and start a women’s network at your own company. Check out nonprofit efforts like GirlsWhoCode and BlackGirlsCode. Work to get in front of students of all ages, and partner with higher education institutions to bring about awareness, interest and opportunities to the field. Offer your expertise in areas where you see opportunity to do so; you can start by looking in your own community. Make your presence known.
The role employers play also has a lot to do with changing the gender ratio in tech (and in how quickly that happens). As an employer, you can’t acknowledge that the lack of minorities in tech is a problem, but then not do anything to change it at your own workplace. The tools are at your fingertips. The responsibility is on you to do your labor market research, then use the insight gleaned to get in front of your target hires and bring them on board.
Intel is helping the cause gain more momentum and just took a huge leap forward by forming a “Diversity in Technology” initiative – a plan which involves building a pipeline of female and underrepresented engineers and computer scientists. The plan is being headed up by Intel president Renée James – the highest-ranking female in the company’s history, and a fierce advocate for women and minorities in tech.
As Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said at the CES keynote:
It’s not good enough to say we value diversity and then have our workplaces and our industry not reflect the full availability and talent pool of women and underrepresented minorities.”
For those employers who want to take a cue from Intel and get an edge in hiring tech talent, recruitment analytics is an invaluable place to start. Tools that make it easy to filter supply and demand data by race, gender and ethnicity make it even easier for you.
Developing a strategy around bringing diverse backgrounds into the workforce is a potent one – one which will deepen your skill base and sharpen your competitive edge. A recent McKinsey study found that gender-diverse organizations are 15 percent more likely to financially outperform their competitors. Using the right tools will give you the insight you need in a world where recruitment strategies are developing into a technological arms race to source the most diverse candidates.