More women are pursuing careers in technology and other high-growth STEM fields, but they continue to face challenges as they look to move up. The organizational practices and attitudes that exist in these industries tend to reinforce many of the roadblocks that prevent women from advancing.
The SHRM news article “Disrupting the Tech Profession’s Gender Gap” says that, in addition to traditional roadblocks, practices such as using artificial intelligence to recruit candidates can contribute to the problem. “Amazon recently had to scrap its new recruiting engine because its algorithm wasn't gender-neutral. A decade's worth of the company's resumes had taught the system that male candidates were preferable,” according to the article.
The HR technology industry sits distinctly at the intersection of technology and D&I, and is now setting the standard for how other industries should support women in tech roles. Many of the challenges facing women in tech careers are attributed to the candidate funnel, inadequate professional development opportunities, hiring for “cultural fit” and other similar circumstances that lead organizations to simply reinforce existing imbalances. While not the only issues facing women, they are significant—and often owned by HR.
In an interview about her HR Technology Conference & Expo session “Gender Equity: Practical Strategies” with Kate Bischoff, employment attorney Heather Bussing said, “HR technology is still a male-centered profession, gender pay equity is still a problem, sexual harassment is still too common, and women are still struggling to be heard and move into leadership at work. And these are not just women's issues. They are important for everyone, especially as HR tech companies are designing software that influences who we hire, how performance is measured and judged, and how organizations really work.”
On October 1, 2019, the HR Technology Conference & Expo will offer its fourth annual Women in HR Technology Summit, which will feature several female tech executives sharing stories from their careers and offering advice. Chair Jeanne Achille, an HR technology expert and the founder and CEO of The Devon Group, says, “Awareness coupled with technology begets change; historically, this has been validated repeatedly. In recent years, tools such as Slack have driven team collaboration, assessment tests have improved leadership pipelines, and artificial intelligence has enhanced the job candidate experience. Now, the time has come to stop dancing around the business-critical issue of gender equality and start putting the investments and programs in place to make it part of every organization’s DNA.”
Every organization has technical roles and departments—even if it is not specifically a technology company. What are you doing as an employer to attract and support more women in technical careers?
Please join @shrmnextchat at 3:00 p.m. ET / noon PT on October 2 for #Nextchat with special guest Jeanne Achille (@jeanneachille) and several summit presenters. We’ll chat about how HR professionals can work inside and outside their organizations to attract, develop and support more women in technical careers.
Q1. What unique challenges do women face—or have you personally faced—in traditionally male-dominated fields such as technology?
Q2. What is your organization and HR leadership doing to hire, develop and promote women? What specific pay-equity initiatives or programs have you created?
Q3. How can the barriers be removed to create an experience that will help women gain the skills to advance and thrive in their roles?
Q4. HR has a huge role in neutralizing gender bias. How are you tackling this issue in your organization with technology, training and other methods for building awareness?
Q5. How and where can women in technology—and all industries—create and cultivate strong industry networks? What are some resources?
Q6. A part of the conversation that’s missing when we talk about equality in the workplace is women who hold other women back. How can women inside organizations overcome this type of unfriendly competition?
Q7. If you’re a woman who has left a career in the technology industry, why did you leave and what are some important career lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Q8. What advice do you have for women who would like to pursue a career in technology or another STEM-related field? What skills are most needed?