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How More Female Leaders Will Fix the Technology Skills Gap

Sunny Ackerman

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The number of female students taking computing is falling. Only 12% of computer science degrees are now being earned by women compared to 37% in 1984. Beyond that, a recent survey of tech professionals revealed that just 38% of workers believe that the company they work for is gender diverse; is it any wonder that young women are having second thoughts about a career in tech? There are some easy ways to get started, not only with attracting talent, but also nurturing it.

Recruitment

Getting Ads Right

When asking for a warrior or a ninja to complete the tech army, is it any wonder that there isn't a diverse response? Removing masculine terms ensures job descriptions aren't off-putting to female applicants. An easy rule is to aim to be bold rather than aggressive when wording them. It's not about fighting problems, but creating solutions.

Female-Friendly Benefits

Once there's a more diverse pool of people to interview, is the company being made as attractive as possible so that they want to join? Childcare can be a big factor for women making their next career move, and perks such as flexible working will be a big selling point to potential candidates. Are there clear policies to encourage a better work-life balance? These could be attractive for someone who is also trying to run a family.

Development

Mentoring

A male-dominated team may not be afraid to lean on each other for advice or to help transfer skills among each other. That doesn't mean everyone on a team will feel comfortable doing so. With 90% of women working in tech admitting they've faced gender bias, asking for help may not be as simple for some.

Mentoring programs are a great way to make all employees feel that they have value. They will also allow a safe environment to further develop any skill sets. Having a female mentor could help give encouragement to women in a business as well as something to aspire to.

Championing Female Talent

If the organization is visible outside the office, see this as an opportunity to lead by example. As the quit rate for women is twice as high as it is for men, it's safe to say not being taken seriously is a big issue. If there is a conference or educational event coming up, utilize it. Show people that women are at the forefront of the business and that there is confidence in them to conduct demos or answer questions. Make it clear that the positive culture talked about on the website is more than just words and that the business is happy to let its diverse range of talent shine.

The rise of women in leadership positions will be gradual, but it can improve. However, it's vital that we start now or else an already embarrassing statistic will get worse at a time when we need more workers. Get recruitment right, and there will be a diverse pool of talent that can be nurtured and developed.

This may, in time, be followed by great leaders who can inspire the next generation. And the more great women working in technology at all levels, the closer we get to bridging the critical shortage of skills we are facing.

Sunny Ackerman is the president of Americas for Nigel Frank International. She is a veteran of recruitment with over 20 years of experience and a keen advocate of closing the gender gap and promoting the importance of equality. Recognized as an influential female leader, she has featured three times in the Staffing Industry Analyst Global Power 150 list.

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