The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “Why is a background in STEM important for shaping female leaders?” is written by Elizabeth Scherle, co-founder and president of Influenster.
In an age where female consumers are the lead tech adopters, it is crucial that we do more to diversify the tech workforce so that products and services better represent their users.
Hiring more women in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) field maximizes innovation, fosters creativity, and strengthens a company’s foundation. It doesn’t cost much to move the needle. All it takes is a willingness to shift the industry’s mindset.
Create a welcoming environment
In order to attract more female candidates to your company, think about what would make them want to work with your tech team. A diverse team is bound to be more appealing to women. Examine if your tech team integrates well with other teams and question if a woman would feel comfortable joining it.
Make sure that there are women in senior leadership acting as role models for younger staff members. Mentorship programs are a great way to help women straight out of college gain the professional development they need to advance in their careers.
Also make sure to emphasize equality for all employees. Women are attracted to firms that have equal pay and good work-life balance policies for both women and men.
Rethink your hiring practices
Ensure gender neutrality in your job listings. Studies have found that the presence of “masculine words” in job listings makes women less interested in applying, even if they think they are qualified for the position. If you think that descriptions like “Code Warrior” or “UX Ninja” are helpful, think again.
Broaden your definition of tech beyond programming and think about all vacancies for positions in product management, data science, and other areas. Try to hire those who are eager to learn straight out of college, or look for skills that your current employees possess that could translate into tech roles. Once you get the right open positions in front of the right audience, you’ll find that there is a lot of potential talent waiting to be tapped.
Support women outside your company
Look beyond the walls of your company and assess what you can do for the community of women in STEM. This will help bring awareness of the shortfall of women in STEM to your own company.
The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship, for example, helps female students in computer science become active leaders in the field. This type of outreach is not just reserved for the tech giants; smaller businesses can make a difference too. At Influenster, we started the Code Like a Girl Scholarship to reward outstanding women studying in STEM fields. The scholarship gives them not only the financial resources to grow in their disciplines, but also career support by offering them tech internships.
Diversity in the tech workplace starts with employers committing to recruit more women. We all have a part to play in shaping and supporting women as leaders in tech. The time to change the ratio is now.