Published: 06 May 2016

I went up to Tech Talent Week last Friday - coincidentally the seminar I most wanted to attend was being held in the same space our new London team will be based - the fantastic 2 More London building overlooking Tower Bridge and the river.

Some great ideas from the Thoughtworks team - and I was excited and pleased to discover some of the formulas for their success in recruiting and retaining talent, we were already using at Sagittarius. Our 360 appraisal system involving peers and mangers - our new 121 system of working with our core values and our 3 week "all in company" structured induction, were already proving successfully for us (in fact our attrition rate was far lower than Thoughtworks)

However Meri Williams really got me thinking about what we all know is a hot topic. Why are there so few female IT engineers? Are we subconsciously screening out women at some point? And if so where?

Is it our web site - does it scream out to males and put off females? I looked and no, equal number of female images on here, in fact we have two women in senior roles within the company - 3 if you count me!

Is it the recruitment process? Are my adverts written to appeal to males more than females? I checked for gender bias ( No - my ads have a female bias.

Is it the interview process? I looked back at my metrics - actually I have only interviewed two female .Net coders in the last 6 months - one only wanted to contract and one was brilliant but had not quite the right technical skill set for us.

Is our environment too "ladish"? I guess sometimes, but on balance it also gets quite "girly" sometimes too. 18 male employees and 8 female so 30% of our work force is female, the office of National Statistics says 47% of the work current work force is female - but the average % of women making up a work force in technology related industry is 30% - so we are about right. However the fact remains that out of a development team of 9, I have no female developers.

How do we increase this? Meri suggested a start would be to find a really successful female developer as a role model -- and bring her into meet the team and speak to us about how the work place is for them and what challenges they faced and face. If we understand the challenges better and the team meet inspirational female techies - then perhaps we can develop a strategy for addressing the inequality. So, if anyone knows someone who would come and talk to us and fly the female flag I would be really grateful for an introduction.

I asked our developers about how many females were on their IT courses - and the number is depressingly low.

Question - how can we encourage more women to consider a career in IT?

Claire Battle

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