Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and Anna Marie Gonzalez, CEO of GirlScouts, made headlines last week when they put a ban on calling women “bossy” which caused an uproar by many. But whether you’re "team bossy ban" or not, one thing is clear -- more women are needed in the tech sector.
In the past couple of years, the debate over women in tech and the "brogrammer culture" has exploded. It’s been fueled by sexual harassment lawsuits against prominent Silicon Valley VCs, accusations of sexism at tech conferences, an influential female developer resigning from a startup after harrassment allegations and recent data suggesting that despite the predominance of coding programs focused on gender parity, a mere 12 percent of females are software developers.
In today’s economy, many businesses are either inundated with resumes for the few positions they are hiring for or -- and this is especially true for tech companies -- they have a hard time hiring anyone who is qualified for the role. Those hiring managers aren’t thinking about “bossy” women leaders. In fact, they aren’t thinking about women or diversity at all. They don’t have time.
But here are three reasons why taking the time to hire women in tech can help your startup:
1. Finding the ‘next’ Marissa Mayer for your board can improve your startup’s bottom line. In a report of 150 Silicon Valley companies, more than 80 percent only had one woman (or none at all) on the board.
"Before Twitter hired Scardino to its board, Glimpse Labs CEO Elissa Shevinsky argued that companies like Twitter are stymied by a lack of qualified female candidates and would hire more women executives if they could find them," Business Insider wrote.
However, this idea has been rebutted by a study by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, which looked at 2,360 public companies and found that over six years the share price of large-capitalization companies with at least one woman on the board outperformed companies with no women on their boards by 26 percent.
Interestingly enough, the study found that the presence of the women at the table -- "not necessarily the performance of the minority individuals" themselves -- enhanced the result. In other words, the majority group achieves more or performs better, in direct response to the minority.
The point is by simply having a diverse boardroom, will increase output.
2. Women may not run the world, but they have a large presence on the web. Let’s face it, online presence is paramount when building a business and key for your startup's return on investment.
It’s been reported that women buy more online and use Facebook and Twitter more than men, and they have different needs.
Depending on the gender breakdown of your target audience, this may push you one way or another in your web design, user experience and feature prioritization. It can also be a blind spot if most of the people making those designs aren’t the same gender as the users. Often female developers are critical to the technological backend of your products’ success and if overlooked could cause your company to flop.
3, High-tech women are needed for old-school collaboration and communication. High-tech innovation relies on good ‘ole communication and collaboration -- the ability to work with others as part of a team to achieve a common goal. Everything from learning, sharing, creativity and complex-problem solving is part of this process. (You know, all the stuff that startups work on every single day.)
Just over 84 percent of senior technical women view themselves as strong collaborators (opposed to 74.8 percent of men), which is a critical link that can help all of your departments relate better to your tech team.
For example, in my 10 years as a professional engineer, I’ve consistently found myself bridging the gap between departments and facilitating more collaboration within the organization.
Spending time on hiring a female-infused technical team is simple solution for everyone to be more productive and to increase your bottom line.
What can you do? Feel daunted by adding gender diversity to your list of criteria for evaluating applicants? There are a couple of ways companies are having success recruiting more women to give you some hope.
Craft marketplace Etsy started offering grants for women engineers to attend a bootcamp-education program and increased the number of women by 500 percent.
At Dev Bootcamp, where I teach coding, we’ve partnered with coding school Girl Develop It and 20-something career women site Levo League to offer scholarships to women.
Regardless of how you recruit females, it is important to find talented women developers. It will not only provide a diverse culture but help grow your business.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated a statement attributed by Elissa Shevinsky.