Encouraging more women into tech roles is a question of good presentation - and internal comms

Isn't it wonderful to see more women having a seat at the top table - long may equality hit the headlines and not be just a 'phase we went through'.

Sell it as though you’d want to buy it when encouraging women into tech roles, argues Sarah Shilling
Sell it as though you’d want to buy it when encouraging women into tech roles, argues Sarah Shilling

However, please let’s not make the mistake and think that by advertising tech roles in Home and Garden magazine, that we are going to attract women.

Yes, before you ask, that’s a real idea that’s been vocalised in a real meeting. Pretty condescending and naive.

Encouraging women into tech roles will need a much smarter approach:

1. Build a community

Women-friendly communities like Girl Develop It, Women Who Code and Black Girls Code have cleverly signposted places women can go to learn new skills and this has attracted and diversified talent. Companies can replicate this internally by creating female-friendly groups, championing their existence and supporting future female leaders. Signpost the smart road and women will want to pursue a career in tech.

2. Break down the barriers

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and exacerbate stereotypes. If tech goes wrong in the room, don’t solely look to men for the solution. Have women as tech champions, whose work spans the breadth of the company, to support tech infrastructure and help solve issues. Companies need to foster a culture of understanding, education and training across all aspects and levels to attract talent.

3. Be smart in articulation

A ‘can-do attitude’ and ‘where’s the solution?’ often beats any university degree. Some technical know-how may be critical in certain roles, but sell it as though you’d want to buy it – we are all consumers at the end of the day. This also applies to universities and education institutes, we need to advertise STEM careers in a way that isn’t alienating to women and avoid language that fuels imposter syndrome. Tech doesn’t mean IT, just as engineering doesn’t mean overalls.

4. Be brave with innovation

People assume flexible working is just for women – not true. Flexible working is for all, as everyone deserves balance regardless of their circumstances and more needs to be done to change this misconception. Companies need to be innovative with benefits, perhaps offering a four-day week, or introduce paid volunteering leave or 'skills swap' workshops. Applying innovation to your HR strategy is a solid investment.

5. Be bold and back women

Finally, be bold and demystify IT. Almost every role has a touchpoint with tech, so I don’t just mean ‘IT’ when I refer to tech, it’s a varied industry. Tech roles are broadening, but the shift in female representation isn’t moving as quickly. We must be bolder in our approach to attract women and offer more support.

Sarah Shilling is chief marketing officer at Unlimited Group

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