Often, people choose career paths that are shown to lead to success…for people like them. Given there are so few examples of women doing tech, especially creation (programming, etc.) I suspect women will choose other paths, even if they do have an affinity. I’ve noticed that many women with CS degrees, bootcamp certificates, etc. for instance. I hear statements like “I’m good at communicating and organizing” of course, but people often emphasize skills that will lead them down the most successful career path, as opposed to those skills that will give them the most fulfillment.
The entry bar is high for women (and people of color,) as finding jobs rely heavily on ones network (mostly male friends,) going to the right school (which may have a poor ratio.)
The interview process is difficult as interviewers, especially junior interviewers, consider the best candidates to be people just like them. Same skillset, same background, etc. To think otherwise would throw doubt on their own value.
And it’s not just the pipeline problem. Career attrition is a huge problem. Women, on average, leave the industry after 7 years. Well below men. Some claim a hostile industry. Some claim they’re not enjoying the job (of doing ‘more successful’ roles like PM, Test, etc. instead of programming.)
And then there’s opportunity once one is hired. Getting on to the ‘right projects,’ being given opportunities to advance, etc. requires good relationships with ones managers and peers. Friendships even. And those are built on shared interests.
Networking outside one’s company is also required to find opportunity, which may require going to things like tech-related conventions, which are often known to be hostile to women given much of the networking involves alcohol.
Some tips to fix it…
* Tell your interviewers to look for candidates who have skills and backgrounds that are different. People who can make up for areas that are lacking.
* If candidates are seeking non-core-development jobs, yet have the schooling and skill to do dev, consider them for dev roles (after making it clear that good communications and organization skills are important for dev.)
* Destroy cliques in your organization. Have a review board for promotions, and question cases where friends promote friends.
* Always have women and PoC in your interview loops, especially more technical women.
* If someone says “we don’t want to lower the bar,” make it clear to them that the bar is based on what you’re missing in the organization, not on what they themselves contribute.
* Reconsider taking part in conferences that are known to be party cons.
* And remember, company culture starts at the top. The CEO and the board have to do more than just accept that “diversity is good.” They have to be open to changing their culture, to making sacrifices, to revisiting their own biases.