Direct From Women in Tech: Here’s How to Attract and Retain Us

More than half of U.S.-based women in tech say their ideas are ignored in meetings until a man repeats them. Are you kidding me? More than half also say they’re left out of professional/social events and are often assigned low-level tasks in their groups. More than a third of women say their appearance has been inappropriately commented on, and 11 percent have been told they got their job because of their gender.

All of this is according to our first-ever Diversity Report, which reports on the results of a survey of more than 3,000 women in tech and which will be published in the coming weeks.

It’s no wonder that recruiting and retaining female talent in tech has become one of the biggest challenges of this decade, which is making it a priority for employers and recruiters to understand the experiences of women in tech and how to improve the workplace for everyone.

The development of artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies, among others, requires a diverse population of builders to create an inclusive future, but fewer young women are choosing to pursue careers in tech and women are leaving tech at double the rate as men. If we don’t figure out how to attract and retain the best female talent, the tech industry could lose its edge.

Our latest Dice research certainly opens our eyes to the number of women experiencing bias and discrimination in the workplace. It also provides some insights and a blueprint for understanding what women want and how to attract and retain them.

Recent Ideal Employer data show that women value benefits above all else when considering a job offer, while men rank benefits fourth. Women rank competitive salary, manageable working hours, a challenging work environment, and positive culture second through fifth on their list of desired employer attributes. When recruiting women, understand the differences between them from male recruits, and demonstrate the opportunities for advancement as those high-level roles, which are already obvious to male tech pros.

Women also want to see more women in leadership positions, underscoring the famous quote by Marian Wright Edelman that “you can’t be what you can’t see.” Young women especially are looking to leadership teams to see other female professionals so they can understand the path to those positions. Two thirds of the women surveyed for the upcoming Diversity Report feel that female employees are not equally represented at senior levels within their current or most recent employers. And 75 percent of women think nothing will change this calendar year. Employers that place a value on diverse leadership teams and promoting women to senior-level positions will stand out among female recruits.

Women also believe that mentoring/sponsoring and transparency in pay structures will be more effective in promoting more women into senior positions than leadership from men on things like gender-neutral job applications.

Maybe most importantly, when either men or women see gender discrimination at work, they are far less likely to refer female friends and colleagues to the company. In fact, referrals are cut by a third when they witness this behavior in the workplace. With 42 percent of women reporting that they have experienced or witnessed discrimination at their current or most recent employers, this could be a major hurdle to finding and sustaining the best female talent in tech. Not only could employers lose the female talent they currently have, but they risk recruiting future talent.

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Employers and recruiters who prioritize benefits and flexibility, while being intentional about culture, inclusivity, and diversity at the leadership level will attract the many, many women who want to build and innovate to create the future. By bringing men and women together to have open and safe conversations about their experiences in the workplace, we can learn even more and accelerate what we all want to accomplish with technology.

 

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Pam Bilash

Pam Bilash has been the senior vice president, human resources of DHI Group, Inc. (parent company of Dice) since January 2014, having joined the company through its acquisition of onTargetjobs where she led the human resources team as executive vice president since 2009. Ms. Bilash previously worked for Thomson Reuters in roles of increasing responsibility, culminating as senior vice president of human resources for the healthcare group. Ms. Bilash is a graduate of the University of Hartford.