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Work Life This is why women don’t want to work at your tech company

Wynn and the research team noticed that recruiters often failed to connect with women in the audience by using gendered pop culture references. For instance, in one case, which they detailed in their report, a recruiter from a big online retailer shared a slide featuring the vintage cartoon characters Popeye and Olive: “Popeye, a man flexing his burly biceps, had the label ‘data plane,’ and Olive, his demure female counterpart—her heart shown beating out of her chest, as if she were swooning over her man—had the label ‘control plane.’” 

Recruiters need to be trained to recognize the stereotypes they might unconsciously hold, says Julie Elberfeld, senior vice president, card technology and executive sponsor of diversity and inclusion for technology at Capital One. “We know that as humans, we carry unconscious or implicit biases, so it is important for all of us to look at our risk for bias, but more importantly, to learn techniques for mitigating bias,” says Elberfeld. “Many of us have seen a narrative in the tech industry that implies women are just not a fit for the tech world. Otherwise, we would see them in it. This generalized narrative is false and is rooted in stereotypes and biases.” 

Capital One’s 2019 Women in Tech survey showed that when women do have tech jobs, nearly 80% are happy with their work, and the majority also describe themselves as good at their jobs.

Another thing recruiters need to be aware of is the confidence gap between women and men. Women are less likely than men to think they’re competent, even when they’re equally skilled. Many qualified women are falling through the cracks: While 40% of men with these STEM college degrees work in their field, only 26% of women do. “My suggestion to recruiters would be to consider carefully how jobs are described and marketed,” says Wynn. “Be sure that you only list job qualifications that are truly necessary to perform the job successfully. Listing too many extraneous qualifications will discourage women more readily than men.” 

It’s crucial recruiters take steps to offset the gender balance in tech, because tech companies are shaping the future in many ways—a future that half of the population deserves to be part of. “Right now, the people creating the technologies that will change how we work, communicate, and live, are largely white and Asian men. Although they’re revolutionizing technology, they may understandably create products that reflect their worldview,” says Elberfeld. “The time is now, in the midst of this digital revolution, to embrace the value of diverse teams in tech.”