It’s no secret that the technology industry is male dominated.
There’s a lot of truth to the portrayals of the tech world in shows like Silicon Valley, where a group of six young men band together in an incubator space to found a technology startup and notably have trouble speaking to women in a professional or casual setting.
Many factors contribute to this visible lack of women in the tech space, including the 24/7 work environment that’s not flexible for women with children and the frat house stereotypes playing out in some workplaces.
This isn’t to say change isn’t happening in both the startup and enterprise tech scenes. As a woman currently holding a vice president position at a tech company in the Valley, I’m seeing firsthand women taking a number of career paths typically occupied by men. But despite these movements in the right direction, the technology sector is still too far from attaining a near-perfect balance.
Creating more gender-balanced workplaces begins with strategic recruitment strategies that attract the right candidates from diverse backgrounds. Here’s how top companies are already doing this:
Tech companies must enlist both female and male employees to help them create excitement about their organization and put them to work in searching for valuable talent.
At Goldman Sachs, where I was formerly one of the few women managers in a highly technical role, I participated in the company’s recruitment efforts four times a year at my alma mater, Cornell University. Visiting Cornell’s campus to attend recruitment events, it quickly become evident that the companies attracting diverse candidates, including near equal numbers of men and women, were the ones that had both male and female recruiters. This type of direct engagement with a diverse talent pool allows companies to stir interest around working for their company, as well as to pre-screen candidates of all backgrounds and genders.
Today, more than ever before, there’s fierce competition among tech companies at in-person recruitment events. Companies must be able to attract top candidates with perks that appeal to both genders; they must ask the right questions to unearth a candidate’s passions and assets; and most importantly, they must enlist their employees in representing their image to attract qualified female and male applicants. Having strong female executives participate in PR campaigns, speak at industry events, and actively promote themselves as influencers and thought leaders in their space sends the message to other women that they too can achieve their professional goals, even in male-dominated fields.
Undergraduate and graduate schools are a great place to recruit fresh candidates with similar bases of knowledge. If companies start hitting the classrooms early, they have a higher chance of finding the right candidates from a diverse pool that includes close to equal numbers of men and women.
For instance, Southern Methodist University (SMU) announced this year that it will be the first university in the United States to offer a master’s degree in data-center systems engineering. The degree provides graduate students with a strong knowledge base of data-center infrastructure, making these students top candidates for the data-center industry. Hiring students fresh out of university will allow both men and women graduates to compete for the same job with a near identical knowledge base.
With a recruitment strategy in place, companies can move closer toward attaining a gender-balanced candidate pool. Recruiting top talent is a key part of every business that should receive great time and attention.
—Tamara Budec is the vice president of portfolio operations at Digital Realty, a global provider of data-center and colocation solutions.