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You Don't Look Like a Star Wars Fan .
Following my post about the ongoing battle to find and secure female dev. talent, I ran my adverts and job specs though gender bias checkers - all good there, our environment is pretty “collaborative" and “supportive” and so saying it on our adverts appeals to women apparently.
I checked the balance of photos of females on our web site - ensuring they are seen to be equal in number and in an influential role - yep, all good there too. Our senior Project Manager is female, half of our Account Management team is female. Half of our Digital Marketing team are female. Our Marketing Manager is female, I am female.
I listened with a critical ear to the daily "banter" - it was a bit geeky and obscure on occasion, but equally sexist from both sides so nothing to worry about there. I spoke to the teams and could not detect any really obvious issues with the thought of fitting a female developer into our teams - quite the reverse in fact they were all aware of the imbalance and all had opinions on why, and none of them though our recruitment process was to blame.
But the truth is we don’t have a single female developer on the team, and we couldn’t remember one in the past either. I looked back at my recruitment metrics and the stats don’t lie; we just don't get many female dev's applying. Could be area, definitely industry, certainly not our sector (Marketing).
But I did start thinking about what happens when they do apply? What does our recruitment process look like from the outside in? I respond to everyone, I read every CV, I think laterally and I telephone screen if there is a small hope that CV’s don’t quite say it all.
Well, last week - at last, following a referral from a contact on LinkedIn (and if your reading this, thank you and the £500 will be yours when this referral passes her probation if she chooses to join us) ... I interviewed a . NET Developer who was FEMALE and lived in the area – double points!
Hallelujah. A not so silent prayer went out as I showed her around our fab offices, including our breakout room - which all of a sudden looked a bit too masculine. Please let her be a good cultural fit as well as technically brilliant, please please.
I then found myself conducting an interview with a massive complex - don't let me be biased- don't let me discriminate either negatively or positively, consciously or sub consciously... I was convincing myself that in fact there was no gender divide in tech jobs. And do you know, the first issue she raised was " I am not a typical Dev, I am not geeky and don't game and I am not interested in Star Wars, do you think your team will accept me? Do you think I will fit in?"
What would you do or say or think? It's a tough one because the reality is if a male applicant said this I would probably be thinking "now you said it, I am not sure” but when this candidate said it, I almost fell out of my chair in my keenness to demonstrate this would not be the case.
In truth it made me reflect - would it? Is that really important? Would she feel that? Would that influence her actions/ progression: enjoyment of the role? Would the existing team feel it to? What effect would it have on them? In the wonderfully engaged and coherent team we currently have? I want a better gender balance to challenge our team dynamics – we all want everyone’s progression to be based on their talent , drive lust for life and technical ability – not a “face fitting” type of assessment. How do I ensure this?
Obviously we want to have an environment where everyone flourishes and progresses - obviously we know the benefits of true diversity on the teams. But this established intelligent already successful person said it, out loud at the start of her meeting with me - she must have been thinking about it, influenced by it.
If we are fortunate enough to have her decide to join us and that we do offer an environment where she can grow, develop and progress - fairly and in exactly the same manner as her male colleagues, what do I need to do to ensure this for her and for the rest of the team?
I am looking forward to finding out.