It was with genuine interest that a male entrepreneur asked a panel of women in tech, “Where are the female talents in the IT industry?”
The question, asked by someone from the audience during the Girls in Coding event this Thursday, opened the debate about the lack of female applicants in tech jobs and about what companies can do to attract more women.
“I get the diversity speech, but how to get more female tech talent?”, asked the entrepreneur from the audience. “CVs from women are not getting through the door.”
In response Amali de Alwis, CEO from Code First: Girls, a social enterprise that teaches coding for free to young women, said that “a lot can be done by tech companies to get more female applicants. There is work to be done. How are you advertising your jobs? A conscious change is necessary,” she said.
Man in audience says "it's hard enough finding 'normal' techtalent how do we find female #techtalent" Using that language you wont!
— Tessa Cooper (@tessacooper5) April 16, 2015
Alexa Glick, global diversity program manager at Microsoft, added:
“How is your job described? Words are so important. Research shows that women look at every skill necessary before applying for a job, while men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications. If you say that the successful candidate will need to be ‘100% for the job’, this might scare women, because they might have a family and won’t be able to dedicate 100% of their time.”
The entrepreneur observed that it was fine to attract women to his company’s business area and that the challenge was to get female developers. “In my business area we have a good gender balance, but if you ask me how many women developers are in my company, I say zero.”
The CEO from Code First: Girls noted that the companies also have the responsibility of training people.
“The role of companies is not just to hire the best talents, but also make the right talent.”
The entrepreneur’s question about where are the women in tech is a crucial one. The number of women studying computer science in the UK is dropping: in 2011, only 17.6% of computer science undergraduates were women. The number is less than half of what it was in 1983/4 – when 37.1% of undergrads were women.
— Mortimer Spinks (@MortimerSpinks) April 16, 2015
Consequently, less women are entering the tech workforce. An analysis by Project Ada has showed that less than one in five UK top tech bosses are women.
Getting more women in the tech world is seen as crucial for the future of the industry, said Sinead Bunting, Marketing Director UK and Ireland from Monster, a recruiter company.
— CGI UK Students (@CGI_UK_Students) April 16, 2015
“Recently Martha Lane-Fox said if the internet is for everybody it should reflect that and be built by everyone. But at the moment 98% of the code relied upon by the internet and web technologies is programmed by men,” said Bunting. “We need different people to build apps that will reflect the diversity of the world.”
Earlier this month, Monster launched the Girls in Coding campaign to raise awareness to the issue.
— Project Ada (@ProjectAda_) April 16, 2015
Here is a video of the campaign featuring different initiatives in the UK to get more women into tech: