5 strategies for hiring more women in IT

If you haven’t dealt with this issue yet, you probably will soon: Finding people skilled in emerging technologies is a challenge. One solution is to adopt hiring strategies designed to draw from a largely untapped pool of talent: women. Here’s why you’ll want to give these strategies a shot.

It’s well-documented that jobs are plentiful in IT these days.  Emerging technologies are creating opportunities companies are anxious to take advantage of.

However,  IT workers are still acquiring the training and experience companies need to implement solutions like cloud computing and virtualization. Hence, you have a situation where many companies are competing over a small number of qualified candidates.

Advantage: job seekers. But, there are a couple things companies can do.

One is to be willing to provide training to a person who demonstrates a strong technical background and a willingness to learn.

Another thing is to widen the search. That means going after people without a traditional IT background. And in many cases, women fit this profile.

Why recruit women?

There is definitely a lack of women in IT — only 25% of tech jobs are held by women.

But, while they may not have direct experience working with technology, many women have grown up with computers and are very familiar with them. Recruiting women from other fields such as business or marketing to fill entry level positions isn’t as much of a stretch as you might think.

Research seems to indicate that most IT managers would like to have more women on their teams.  A recent survey of 2,400 IT leaders from 20 different countries conducted by Harvey Nash found 68% believe their teams lack important skills because they don’t include enough women.

The participants said having more women in IT would improve:

  • Relationships with internal customers (cited by 51%)
  • Team cohesion and morale (48%), and
  • Creativity and innovation (46%).

How to do it

If you’ve been thinking you’d like to add more women to your IT staff but aren’t sure how to go about it, here’s some advice from experts in the field:

  1. Again, recruit women who don’t have a traditional IT background. Consider women with business and/or marketing experience.
  2. Make sure female candidates meet with women employees when they interview to give candidates a sense that they’ll be valued at your company.
  3. Put women in leadership roles to attract more female applicants.
  4. Offer flexible work arrangements including flextime and telecommuting – women shouldn’t be penalized for having families.
  5. Offer low-cost perks that make life less stressful. Some ideas: onsite dry cleaning pick-up and drop-off, onsite gyms with showers, or summer hours (so employees can skip out a little early on Fridays to enjoy the nice weather with their families).

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