How to Support Women in Software Development Careers

Juliann Deegan and Alfie Whattam of Hays explore ways companies can ensure gender diversity within their software development teams.

The need for technological solutions has never been greater. A growing industry has been further accelerated by the events of recent years, and developers are in high demand as businesses across all industries attempt to meet the needs of the modern world.

However, despite the progress the tech industry is seeing, there is still huge room for improvement, especially when it comes to women working in software development.

In the global software development market, the vast majority of individuals are men, representing perhaps over 91% of the global workforce.

To see how organizations can move forward on their equality, diversity and inclusion journeys and support women in tech, we asked recruiting experts to share their insights, stories and tips for balancing the ladders. .

Students look elsewhere for role models

A report released last year in Poland found that, of women working in the country’s IT sector, a third were in developer roles – more than any other tech field. However, the same report found that more than half of women in tech had not graduated in a related field, with a third entering after extracurricular studies and courses.

Recent graduates are a target audience and investing in these candidates can give you a better chance of retaining them, as they will build loyalty in your organization.

Partnering with universities and colleges and attending job fairs is a great way to engage with future talent by making face-to-face connections. This can help persuade them to join your organization because you can introduce the company culture and answer all their questions right away.

Jane Bamford, EMEA Director for Hays Technology, said: “For some reason far fewer women opt for STEM college degrees than men. There needs to be more education/awareness of roles in technology and software development, specifically for children who are in the later years of school.

“Especially considering the huge shortage of candidates in software development in general, we need to educate them about the options and ways they can train to become software developers. We need to showcase women software developers as role models, to inspire others to do the same.

Joshua Taylor, who specializes in recruiting front-end developers for Hays Technology, said: “If we look back through history, women have played an extraordinary role in some of our greatest technological advancements. Take Joan Clarke, the famed Bletchley Park mathematician who helped develop one of the earliest known computers used to crack the Enigma code during World War II.

The problem facing organizations is how to tap into this undiscovered and unfulfilled talent.

What are organizations already doing to address this?

Through our conversations with various technology leaders, we’ve already seen many organizations take specific steps to build more diverse teams. For example, Bamford reported that a large communications company in Hungary set a key performance indicator to hire women in at least a quarter of their software development roles.

Freddie Andrews, who recruits Java engineers at Hays UK, said: “A client we work with now has a new policy that in order to hire a software developer they must have at least one female candidate through the process. maintenance. . Since the implementation of this new process, the feedback has been very positive.

Harry Tingle, recruitment consultant at Hays Technology, recently experienced a similar situation. “One of our clients, a global leader in investment banking, has now incorporated a new stage of diversity into its recruitment process. In their final interview, they now ensure they have ethnically and gender diverse representation on the interview panel to ensure the company makes the best decision.

What else can organizations do?

Is this enough or are there other avenues for businesses to explore? Rob Beckley, ANZ Director for Hays Technology, has several suggestions. “In Australia and New Zealand, like the rest of the world, software development remains a male-dominated space. At the same time, we are experiencing one of the most acute skills shortages we have ever seen. Attracting female talent into software development can help fill this gap.

“To find more candidates, engage with local tech communities. In Australia and New Zealand, dating events and industry associations are nurturing and supporting female tech talent through mentorship programs, bootcamps and workshops. Organizations can support these local activities and build a reputation as an employer of choice.

“Talk to your existing software developers to ensure they are engaged and satisfied. Highlight what successful female software developers love most about working for you and what you can offer others potential employees and identify areas in which to improve retention.I would also recommend using gender-neutral language to rewrite your job descriptions and career pages, even if it’s subtle.Set goals, such as two candidates by shortlist, and select a mixed interview panel.

Bamford advised: “Companies also need to be aware of diversity and its importance to having a high performing team. Women are less likely to apply for a job if they feel they don’t meet all the criteria in the job description than men – so companies should keep this in mind when advertising jobs and when advertising. they review applications.

Diversity initiatives that have policies for women are beneficial. Our U.S. Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) report found that organizations are taking steps to retain a diverse workforce by providing training for managers, offering inclusive programs to career development and communicating ED&I initiatives to their business.

By Juliann Degan and Alfie Whattam

Juliann Deegan is commercial director of digital technology at Hays. Alfie Whattam is the Head of Recruitment for Hays Software Development UK and Ireland. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays Technology Blog.

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Gordon K. Morehouse