Gender Equality in Tech.
What can HR do?

How to Recruit Women

Rose McCarter-Field

By Rose McCarter-Field

How often do you get a female applicant for a tech job? Surely all tech companies are mostly male, so it’s not just you? Tech giants and research groups have identified how tech companies are putting female talent off. And yes it is you, it’s actually all of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) industries that have been found to have a culture that excludes women, right from the starting point, recruitment.

So what can we do? Research has shown that many women look at different facets of a company when looking for work. Women are more likely to be interested in culture, values, and work flexibility. Research such as those studies conducted by Akzo Nobel have found that engineering adverts, or adverts written by engineers often alienate women (1). They want to be able to see the life they would have working with you, not just technical terminology on tasks. 

Role Profiling 

What are managers and recruiters preconceptions about the type of character that will fit? Is this inclusive? Or is it ‘people like me’? If managers want to recruit ‘people like me’ or ‘people like Jo Blogs’ then you will never have an inclusive culture. It is important for managers to understand preconceptions about the type of person they want, and how that differs from the skills and attributes required to do a good job.

Job Adverts

Have a think about how you are advertising your roles. Are your adverts inclusive in their language and imagery? Do they use lots of cold technical terms? Where are the adverts being shown? Are any women seeing them? If you are head hunting, have you head hunted any women?

Women also don’t tend to apply for a job unless they have all of the skills listed on the job description, and extensive experience of those skills(2). Make sure you think carefully about which skills are essential for the role and clearly define your must-haves from your nice to haves; it will make the world of difference to the applications that come through.


Research has also shown that women are more likely to be modest about their achievements in their application and in the interview. Be aware of this, especially in the interview process when asking interviewees about their experience. It helps to be clear about your shortlisting criteria, and place the onus on yourself to find the best match for this criteria. Try to get the best out of every interviewee by being inquisitive, that will give a fairer picture of the comparative experiences of applicants.

To aid inclusion in our recruitment, we need different perspectives on the table throughout all our processes, actions, and communications. That is how real inclusion comes about. But if that is not possible presently, we can take these basic steps to start the journey towards gender equality.

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Part 3: How to  Retain Women – coming soon! If you’d like this series of articles sent to your inbox, sign up here. Or come back in a week when I plan to post the next in the series.

Afternote on Equality:

I find myself in a difficult situation not wanting to perpetuate any stereotypes by highlighting gender differences. Especially in a world where gender identity is no longer black and white. I can justify this by understanding that there really is a culture in STEM that is putting women off and we need to be aware of why this is, in order to achieve a better gender balance. There are so many talented people out there, and we want them to join us in STEM!

    1. Sunday Times 2014
    2. Forbes 2020–from-the-cofounder-of-the-grace-hopper-conference/
    3. WES recruitment%20of%20women%20in%20STEM_0.pdf
    4. Talent 101 2019 
    5. Talent Works 2019
    6. Glassdoor 2018
    7. Glassdoor 2021 
Rose Laura Webinar Women in Tech

How Do We Get More Women in Tech?
Practical Steps for Leaders

A talk by Rose McCarter-Field and Laura West Project Recruit and Escalla

17th June 11.30am BST


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