Recruiting Women in STEM with skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are becoming an increasingly important skillset in today’s knowledge economy. To continue growing, we will need at least one million additional STEM professionals in the near future. It’s a boom time for STEM recruiters but how can you get the best talent for the job? It is possible by tackling gender bias head on.
Unconscious Bias with Recruiting Women in STEM
In this Tedx Talk entitled The surprising neuroscience of gender inequality, Janet Crawford reported that: ‘a Yale University study looked at bias in the hiring for the traditionally male role of police chief. In this study, purportedly gender-blind participants were asked to review two applications. When no names were attached, they overwhelmingly preferred the application that had more education. But when a male or female name was attached, they overwhelmingly preferred the application with a male name.’ So, it turns out we all suffer from unconscious bias.
Recruiting Women in STEM Echo Chamber
Microsoft claims that, ‘When it comes to gender balance amongst European students of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM), men still outnumber women. There are almost four times more men than women in taking STEM related studies and worldwide.’ Homogenous views create an echo chamber of agreement and this means your product/ service won’t necessarily appeal to the wider market. To get better results in the workplace you need the diversity that represents your customer or client base and if women are buying or using your product then it makes business sense to hire them too.
Recruiting Women in STEM by Improving Job Descriptions:
As simple as it sounds, the first step is to look at your job descriptions. Does the role appeal to men and women? Hire Women in Tech has an excellent round up of job description examples that show that even a change in a couple of words can make a profound effect on which gender it appeals. If you’re not sure then try out Kat Mansfield’s Gender Decoder to see if your unconscious mind has written gender biased job descriptions.
Rewrite Your Job’s Expectations
The Harvard Business Review reports that, ‘men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.’ Women are not applying for roles because they view job descriptions as a checklist rather than a wish list. Be honest about the qualifications or experience you do expect the candidate to have but give wiggle room for the less important ones otherwise you might be alienating high-flying female candidates.