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How recruiters can help close the gender gap in tech

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The tech industry is booming, but demand for professionals is exceptionally high with talent shortages worldwide. A recent study from Cyberstates discovered that there were 627,000 tech jobs in the U.S. jobs market in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Yet there is still a very real issue when it comes to gender representation in the industry. Aside from pay gaps— which are now increasingly high —there’s a big gap in terms of how many female IT professionals that tech companies are hiring.

In fact, women make up less than 20 percent of U.S. tech jobs – in the UK, there are less still, at 15%. This imbalance carries through into the tech startup sector too. Fortune found that a mere 2.7 percent of venture-capital funded tech startups are run by female CEOs. 

Females are often dissuaded from jobs in tech to the point self-fulfilling prophecy, thanks to factors like archaic attitudes in schools that fail to encourage girls to pursue STEM subjects, and ‘boys’ club’ cultures in male-dominated workplaces that drive women out of roles.

Businesses really need to be doing more to not only enlist more women into tech roles but retain them, too. According to a recent study by Booking.com, half of respondents agreed firms need to implement new hiring practices to attract more diverse talent.  

Recruitment firms are often the first port of call in the hiring journey, and businesses should take advantage of this opportunity to implement modern hiring practices. Here are some ways recruiters can close the gap and attract more females to tech roles:

 

Offer flexible working

Three-quarters of women in tech think workplace flexibility is key to retention. Flexible working is great for everyone; it offers people the chance to work at the times most productive for them. The ability to plan working hours around other duties is a key factor for many candidates when deciding whether to take a job or not.

With commitments like picking children up from school and childminding responsibilities, flexible working can also be exceptionally valuable for parents and caregivers – male or female.

Use specialist job boards and descriptions

If you’re hiring for tech roles, you could try specialist IT job boards to find the cream of the crop when it comes to talent – some are even aimed specifically at women.

"We use specialist jobs boards and recruiters to make sure we’re reaching the right people and to make sure the jobs we advertise are appealing to everyone,” says Banking company Monzo. “We also take careful measures to make sure we don’t use gendered language in job descriptions.”

Gendered job descriptions might not be the first thing to cross your mind when thinking about recruiting, but they exist and the issue is very real. While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents job boards from specifying gender, the language used in job descriptions often subtly nods to gender stereotypes. Recruitment firms can easily eradicate words like ‘ninja’, ‘dominate’ and ‘competitive’ which are all masculine-coded.

Hire straight out of school and university

Schools and universities are great places to recruit fresh candidates. If recruitment companies hit the classrooms early, they have a higher chance of finding the right candidates from a diverse pool of talent that includes more equal numbers of males and females.

Recruiting and retaining talent for the future

Recruitment practices should be carefully thought-out at every stage. Not only is hiring a diverse workforce a necessity today, but it also creates economic value through increased innovation and productivity. With a strong recruitment strategy in place, companies can move closer towards attaining a gender-balanced candidate pool that will propel them into the 21st century and beyond. 

Zoe Morris is Chief Operating Officer at Frank Recruitment Group, a global leader in niche IT recruiting.

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