Finding Women in the Information Systems Environment by Beata Green

Beata GREENThere is a marked gap between the number of male and female students enrolled in computer science in schools. That means very few women are entering into a computing career. Moreover, this is a concern, because the lack of women in information systems careers can actually slow down the economy. Not only that, but the risk trickles down to companies who are missing out on the more diverse teams that studies say will make their businesses more successful.

There are a host of benefits to acquiring female talent, one being better returns. Women, when placed in general leadership positions can offer far higher returns to shareholders and investors.

The fact that there are fewer women in information systems means that they can be very difficult to find, let alone attract for a business. However, there are ways to locate the talented female coders you seek.

Explore Different Networks
Do you currently know any female developers? If you don’t, chances are you won’t be able to use your existing networking channels to find them. Instead, try and connect with individuals from other networks, and explore your opportunities there.

Support and Encourage Existing Female Talent
Are there women who are already working for your organisation that would be a good fit in the developer role? Identify the strengths and qualities you want in a female developer, and then set about finding and interviewing them. Ensuring that potential female developers feel supported and encouraged will help them to feel more comfortable with new challenges.

But the challenge lies not only in finding women to work for your company; it will also require a change to the way your existing company culture is structured. It also requires you to effect a change in how women developers are perceived by those who already work for your company.

Change Your Company Culture
If you are currently working with teams of male coders but want to harness female talent, a culture change will likely be necessary. Many business owners believe that new female team members will simply adapt to the existing company culture. However, this won’t be beneficial to the new team member or to your business. To make any team member feel welcome, you must understand how they communicate, and then learn how to communicate in their language. That includes new female team members.

A Non-Competitive Environment
A non-competitive culture can provide far more benefits to your company than a competitive one. When everyone is on the same playing field, individual talent can be utilised far more efficiently. This kind of environment places importance and value on all team members, and can present a much more welcoming place for coders of all genders to work.

Don’t Change the Focus for Female Interviewees
Believe it or not, talking about the work-life balance your company offers will not impress female interviewees. A woman engineer, coder or developer will be interested in the challenges they will be solving at your company, just as male interviewees would. If you have a set of especially difficult challenges that you are dealing with, put the spotlight on these at the interview.

Some studies suggest that even simply removing any gendered pronouns from employee communication before handing it to your team can be enough. When management shows no gender bias, it can set an example for employees. Although this may seem like a simple solution, it can go a long way to communicating to existing and potential employees that you are interested in talent, regardless of the gender from which it may originate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Beata Green is Managing Director of HeadChannel Ltd., London based bespoke software development company. She is responsible for overall strategic direction and overseeing the company’s continuing growth, building closer client relationships and maintaining best working practices. She enjoys brisk country walks with her red fox labrador and then relaxing in front of a TV crime drama with a glass of red wine.

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