I have written about why this is the best and by far the most exciting time to be a women in technology or for that matter in any leadership role. I have been reading Sheryl Sandberg‘s book “Lean In“. I have to say that it has been a disappointing experience to get women to take a seat at the table or to jump on a opportunity. I think context is in order, as CEO of GreenQloud one of my jobs is to hire world class people to build a world class team. In my opinion, a balanced team is more effective so I have been searching to get more women to join Team GreenQloud. Here is my experience so far… we have made 3 offers to women and all of them have rejected our offer. One of the women was still in school who was interested in what we do, I offered her to spend whatever time she could with Team GreenQloud, we would train her in what we do and when she feels that she is ready to join the team I said we could discuss the role, compensation etc the usual stuff. What do you think happened? she showed up for 2 weeks, then quit. Ok, understandable, she got another opportunity. We got requests from 2 more women who wanted to join us for Summer jobs, we made an offer to both of them to join… guess what? both of them turned it down! I am curious to learn the reasons for their decisions because I very strongly emphasized that we will train them and give them all the opportunity to take on challenging roles and tasks within GreenQloud. But they decided not to participate. I am not complaining, just stating facts. Despite my pep talk that they should not be scared about technology and we are motivated to make them part of Team GreenQloud, they still did not take it. This is not the end of my effort to get more women to join GreenQloud. We are going to make a concerted effort to get more women to join GreenQloud.
I am curious and want to understand why this is so, then I bumped into a TED lecture by Sheryl Sandberg and there it was obvious and clear as is in the book. Here is the lecture by Sheryl:
So, if you a women ready to jump into an exciting Startup company in Iceland and you are not afraid of technology, contact me bala at greenqloud dot com. We want to hear from you and we want you to take a seat at the table. I don’t believe we will win without having the talent, intuition and intelligence of women in our team.
- HR Consultant, Human Alliance Opinion: New Book by Sheryl Sandberg is Visionary (prweb.com)
- Sheryl Sandberg Just Hired One Of The People Fired From Tumblr’s Editorial Team (FB) (embargozone.com)
- Maybe, In Spite Of What Sheryl Sandberg Suggests, You Should Lean Out (thegloss.com)
I don’t think women are scared of technology, and frankly, if I got a ‘pep talk’ from a prospective employer along those lines, I’d probably turn him down too. Sheryl Sandberg has an interesting perspective, but she speaks as a woman at the top of the tree, and you’re trying to recruit new entrants.
It’s just a guess, but if you’re not getting in many women applicants and the ones you offer to are turning you down, you may be getting a very good quality of applicant who has a lot of choices. Many women look at all male environments, and wonder why the company is that way. If a woman has a few offers on the table, that will be a hard barrier to get over.
Recruiting by word of mouth will make it very hard for you to get women to apply, though your intern scheme sounds like a great way of getting women into your organisation, and hopefully some of them will become employees in the future. Also, if they find it a rewarding experience, they’ll tell their mates about it, and you may get more women coming your way.
There is a fairly well documented phenomenon of, as a gross generalisation, women hearing of a job where they meet 60% of the requirements and thinking ‘I won’t apply, that’s not for me’, and men thinking ‘well, I’ve got most of it, I’ll apply’. My own experience of recruiting through ads would tend to bear that out – 100s of men applying for jobs for which they’re completely unsuitable. But the flip side is that it might be worth trying to state the requirement in terms of what you actually need, not just a list of skills and certifications (I don’t know if you do this, but its a real problem with IT job ads).
I’ve managed to recruit a small IT team which is nearly 50% women, by being family friendly (which applies to men as well as women, and our male employees are keen on our flexibility as well), making sure that if a woman applies and her CV looks reasonable she gets an interview, and, being a woman, it may be easier for me to get others to come along. I doubt that last one is a big factor, but I bet its there at some level.
In the end though, its got to be both a good job and an attractive working environment. It’s great to hear you’re trying to get more women on board, and I hope you manage to make it happen.
I think context is in order. The women I am referring to in my blog were all worried about GreenQloud being too technical. Maybe a Pep talk is a wrong phrase… I was only assuring them that we understand that we need to train our new team members and we are very glad to do that. It is a difficult topic to handle and I struggle with it like everyone else, this topic is also so sensitive that I don’t know if it would matter what I write it will be construed always incorrectly. But I appreciate your thoughts on this and I am really motivated to make more women participate in technology companies. I think that is the only way to fix a number of challenges in technology startups.
Bala, this is a real issue affecting the entire industry and thank you for bringing this up and being willing to try to figure out what can be done.
There are many things to consider, some kind of obvious, others not so:
In my experience women tend to shy away from male dominated companies that give off a whiff of brogramming and testosterone – including the old “work hard – play hard” mantra.
Many companies talk about job openings using masculine pronouns – “He should be experienced in…” – and are often talked about as “the guys at …”, which is also off-putting. We need to adjust that. It is also kind of funny that if you use “he” and “him” in describing a job opening, the guys tend to think it applies equally to everyone, but if you use “she” and “her” they think you’re only looking for women. The flip side of that is what?
And seriously, there’s also the locker-room smell of a guys only joint. Ugh.
If other women are present in the organization, are they in position of power or are they part of the support structure? It matters. Do those that apply get the feeling that they have to be “one of the boys” to fit in?
On the other side, studies have shown that women tend to drift towards the people-interaction side of IT, because they can and because they like it. Dev-ops type of activities are typically not heavy on people-interaction so you may be facing an uphill battle.
Great comments. I agree with you and you know that we are totally on the same page. We typically don’t put out job descriptions at GreenQloud and we have been getting requests for interview. Which is good. When we do put our job descriptions we will definitely take on your suggestions.
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