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How to hire more women

Nasser Oudjidane
December 19, 2022

Most of us want to build a workforce that’s representative of society at large, and that includes gender. But what are some of the proven ways that hiring managers can build a more gender diverse team? In this blog, we’ve collected some case studies and insights on how to increase and sustain female representation in tech.

‘How to get women into tech (and keep them there)’

A blog by Franziska Hauck details some of the “low-hanging fruits” on how to hire (and retain) women in tech.

Firstly, Franziska sets out the case for why this matters:

‘Diverse companies have better bottom lines. Diverse teams cater to a wider audience, thus unlocking innovative potential. Diversity creates a better atmosphere for all, as in higher levels of mutual respect and more possibilities to unearth hidden treasures.’

Franziska goes on to list some actionable steps that hiring teams (and their wider organisation) can implement to achieve greater female representation. Here are just some of those recommendations:

  • “Ask the women in the org to refer women. Ask the men to refer women. As all genders.”
  • “Strip job descriptions down to the bare minimum.”
  • “Check if you pay women less on average and why, then fix it.”
  • “Hire women into (technical) leadership positions.”
  • “Have a DEI & Belonging strategy for all employees.”

What’s more, Franziska observes that change within an organisation must be meaningful:

‘Only implement those measures if you are truly willing to change the system and, with it, also a bit yourself. Throwing resources at a problem will not make it go away unless the systemic root causes can and will change.’

How Etsy transformed its female representation

Elsewhere, a First Round Review blog details how Etsy increased their representation of female engineers by almost 500% in one year.

80% of Etsy’s customers are women, so it was only right that the online marketplace’s workforce reflected this customer base.

Key to the success has been Etsy Hacker Grants, which provide “need-based scholarships to talented women engineers enrolling in Hacker School (a three-month hands-on course designed to teach people how to become better engineers)”.

The Hacker School has been an inventive approach, allowing Etsy to look for female hires beyond a traditional pool of senior, ‘credentialised’ candidates. In fact:

‘The experiment proved that it’s almost impossible to hire senior women engineers to join the organisation, so Etsy is hiring junior engineers, instead.’

In doing so, Etsy has been able to invest in these engineers’ skills and work towards promoting senior female talent internally.

Six stories from tech leaders on building workplace diversity

Every organisation is shaped in different ways, and it was interesting to read the stories of six engineering leaders in The Pragmatic Engineer on how they built more diverse teams in tech.

There are plenty of handy tips in the article. As a general rule of thumb, Sarah Wells, Tech Director at the Financial Times, is quoted as saying: “There are two aspects that I think matter if you want a diverse team. The first is whether you can hire people. The second is whether you can keep them.”

Embrace non-standard routes into tech

We’ve covered the dangers of having a narrow, credentials-first approach to hiring before, but  one way to achieve more equitable workplace representation, including on gender, is to partner with organisations that offer a non-standard route into coding. One such example is CodeYourFuture, a UK-based not-for-profit that “trains some of the most deprived members of society to become web developers and helps them to find work in the tech industry”.

Meanwhile, Makers, London’s leading software development boot camp, is another useful avenue for accessing diverse talent from its graduate pool.

Got any tips on hiring and retaining female engineers? Share your success stories and we’ll include them in our next blog on female representation in tech.

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