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Tips on Hiring Women in Tech

When I was the leader of a young tech team, I worked hard to hire women and build a diverse team of engineers. Some things I tried were successful. Some weren’t. The following is a list of what worked for me.

Stop hiring men

I’m serious! This sounds stupid but the single most significant thing that I did to increase the diversity of the team was make a firm commitment to not just hire the first qualified applicant that comes along. If you do that, you’ll end up with a room full of Y chromosomes guaranteed. Every dude and his dog wants to be a programmer these days. So if you advertise a software engineer job it won’t be long before you have an inbox full of male applicants. Now what? The first step is to make a commitment to NOT just hire the first qualified applicant. Accept that it will be more work, but that it will be worth it. Get buy-in at the highest level of your organization. Hiring is already a notoriously under-appreciated amount of work, and you will need the support of your boss.

Plan ahead

If you want to be selective about who you hire, you need to plan ahead and start a job search before you’re desperate to filll the position. If you cannot afford extra time to wait for who you are looking for, then your chances of hiring a woman are very low. You should do this even if you don’t care about hiring women. Desperate hiring is a sign of bad leadership. If you’re team is growing steadily you should basically always be hiring, or at least recruiting.

Audit job listings for biases

Job descriptions tend to reflect the personal point of view of the author. So it’s not coincidental that job descriptions written by men often appeal more to other men. This seems especially true for startups. Startup culture tends to be pretty “macho” so it’s easier to write extremely male-centric job descriptions without noticing. You may think “Ninja Warrior Rock Star Javascript Developer” sounds awesome but not everyone else does. National Center for Women & Information Technology offers free resources to help with this, including a checklist for reducing unconscious bias in job descriptions and a guide to writing better job ads. By the way, the “rock star” job title meme is tired. Think of a new way to prove how trendy you are.

Advertise jobs in places where women go

Some communities have more women than others, so paying attention to this fact will increase your chances of finding strong female candidates. For example, in my entire career I don’t remember ever received a single application from a women via AngelList. I’ve been told by colleagues that Glassdoor is more effective. The most success I had was having friends and colleagues spread the word to their local social media communities, especially ones with a high concentration of women. For example, one time a friend mentioned one of our jobs on a private Facebook page for queer technologists and a handful of talented women applied by the next day (and we hired two). I think it helped that he vouched for us and mentioned we were hoping women would apply.

Follow women on Twitter

Twitter is an easy way to follow along with what is happening in the tech world. By following women in the industry you get a window into the issues they are talking about. The point is to take an interest. If your company is run by men, you’ll have no shortage of male perspectives. But until you hire some women, you will have to make additional effort to be informed. Which relates to the next point…

Promote women

It’s fine and nice for your company to have a diverse room full of interns. It’s much more meaningful if you have a leadership team that includes women and minorities. This is important for many reasons. In addition to helping you recruit more women, female leaders prove that your company is a place where women are appreciated and successful. If your company has more than a few leadership roles and none are women, do some soul-searching.

Join Women’s Organizations

Getting involved with groups and organizations is a great way to broaden your network and attract new talent. If you get involved with women’s groups and organizations, you’ll have that much more opportunity to attract talented women. Consider sponsoring an organization that supports women in tech. It’s something you can be proud of, and it demonstrates your priorities to potential job candidates. If your company cannot afford to sponsor, you can still attend and support public events hosted by tech organizations for women. There are often roles for men who want to contribute, especially if you have time and expertise to volunteer. There is no harm in offering. And if you show up to an event where you are the only man in the room it’s a great chance to experience what it’s like every day for most women who show up to work on tech teams.

Join the discourse

If diversity in your workplace is something you care about, talk about it. Describe your efforts on your company blog. Join conversations on Twitter. And share what you learn in humble articles (like this one).

Bonus

Here is a is a massive collection of resources to help you Hire More Women In Tech.

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