Finding Qualified Women in IT

By Katherine Van Pelt, Vice President, Strategic Marketing, Randstad Technologies

Acquiring the IT skills needed to accomplish organizational goals is challenging, especially given how quickly and aggressively new technologies are being applied. Compounding the problem of an overall skills shortage in some highly demanded disciplines, firms trying to either preserve or build a more gender-balanced IT workforce often struggle with finding enough female IT job applicants.

Despite the percentage of total computer science undergraduate degrees awarded to women falling from nearly 40 percent 1985 to under 20 percent in 2012, some organizations have still managed to excel at increasing the number of women in their IT workforce. Firms that have proven successful over time at hiring more women for open IT positions have designed and implemented structured programs designed to appeal to female candidates.

If your organization is struggling to find and hire sufficient numbers of women for IT positions, here are some ideas that might help:

  1. Fine-tune the wording of your job opening descriptions. This might sound inconsequential, but descriptions that highlight cooperation and collaboration over competition will more likely appeal female job candidates. Ask female employees to review the language in order to gauge their reactions.
  2. Get involved in building a bridge to women in technology. Sponsor events, provide scholarships to female students interested in STEM fields, and speak at events that attract women technologists, etc.
  3. Connect with local women tech communities related to your field of work. Make an effort to identify these and become active participants and supporters.
  4. Ensure your organization is conducive to helping working women. Your organization’s reputation should highlight your commitment to maintaining and enhancing this type of culture.
  5. Consider establishing a mentoring program aimed at helping up-and-coming female students. Reach out to current female employees to gauge interest in establishing a mentoring program with the goal of helping female students acquire workforce insight and relevant skills.

The drive to recruit more women IT candidates must start at the very top with the organization’s leadership. Leadership must emphasize the importance of such efforts and commit to developing processes to focus recruitment, encourage retention, and measure success.

From 2004 to 2013, there was only an increase of 200,000 women working in the fields of computer science and mathematics. However, with demand for these skills projected to grow 13 percent by 2024, organizations striving to reap the benefits of a more diverse workforce. particularly one that is gender-balanced, will have to fashion strategies to attract and retain more women. Being successful requires commitment and vigilance.

Katherine Van Pelt is Vice President, Strategic Marketing, at Randstad Technologies, a role she has held since 2011. In this capacity, she is involved in all areas of marketing for the company in the US, including: strategy, thought leadership, case study development, website, public relations, industry events, and social media. Katherine also leads a global project to grow Randstad Technologies’ IT business in Europe and the Asia Pacific region.

About Randstad Technologies: Randstad Technologies has been connecting top companies around the globe with the expert technology talent and solutions that drive their success since 1984. Their deep industry expertise and full-service capabilities — Recruitment, Consulting, Projects and Outsourcing — enable organizations to be agile, productive and ahead in the field with Randstad’s wide network of specialists and flexible solutions. For more information, visit www.randstadtechnologies.com.

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