women in tech

Hi all, I work in the tech industry which is male dominated. As a business we would like to encourage more women to get into this line of work, which we are currently acting upon. In conjunction we would like to launch a recruitment campaign targeting women, is this allowed? Would we be in breach of discrimination? I have seen some big companies advertising for women to join their company, so I assume it can be done. But would like to know if there are certain caveats or anything to be aware of. I am not sure this is the best category, so if I need to move this thread, please let me know. thank you :)
  • It depends what you mean by targetting.
    you can choose your media and use pictures of women and no doubt other things as well as long as you are not discriminating against men. There must be people out there with a track record of encouragement and success.
  • Hi Gemma,

    There are plenty of women in tech specific job boards that you could advertise your roles on. It'd also be worth ensuring that you're creating and promoting a culture where women feel they fit - getting the applicants is only the first bit of the process! If you're serious about improving diversity and perhaps having balanced shortlists for example, this will inevitably make the recruitment process longer and you might miss out on other candidates who can't wait: not necessarily a problem, but something for hiring managers to be very honest with themselves about in terms of whether it's an option.
  • Might also be worth exploring “returners” options to get women back into tech
  • I'm very interested in this. We've just been commissioned to do some work in schools (we're a charity) around increasing aspirations for disadvantaged female students, particularly into those industries that are male dominated. (This is based on research in our area that there's an inequality around destination employment). The idea is that we work with both young people and employers to join this work up.
  • In reply to Joanne Garnham:

    Generally it's fine to target eg women applicants for occupations in which they're under represented but not to treat men less favourably when it comes to selecting the applicants (unless s.159 applies).

    Spelled-out here (including the link);

  • In reply to Joanne Garnham:

    I think that's the only real way that a lot of these things will be tackled longer term. I've just signed up to be an Enterprise Adviser to help with schools on that basis - it's such a great scheme.
  • I second the other commenters. I note that you can target women without excluding male applicants (that would be discrimination)
    In a previous company I have run targeted campaigns to women and we targeted this by placing adverts near schools (working mothers), emphasising the flexibility of the roles and also used females in the campaigns.
    It was all done subtly, and without denying male applicants.
    Hope that helps.
  • thank you everyone. We already employ women (myself being one) and the feedback on inclusion etc. is really positive and we have flexible working as standard. We are also doing work with schools and colleges to support young people getting into tech. Will review our job campaigns and bear in mind your suggestions. We have plenty of vacancies, so would never turn down anyone suitable to do the job and therefore avoid any form of discrimination. We purely want to encourage women into tech and to join us.
  • In reply to Gemma:

    Drifting off-topic strictly, but just thinking of past experience re supporting recruitment and retention and wellbeing of female engineering apprentices, it doesn’t stop once you’ve recruited them. Female engineering apprentices can feel eg very isolated and intimidated in these typically male-dominated and sometimes misogynistic environments and can benefit from targeted support such as sensitive and effective mentoring. Their experiences feed back into the recruitment problem too, because they tell their families and friends and teachers etc all about them, good or bad.

  • In reply to Gemma:

    Good luck Gemma! I'm so glad the culture is so inclusive - it'll really help.
  • Hi Gemma, I've worked on similar projects - to boost a diverse range of applicants into tech roles particularly as developers. It sounds like you have some key ingredients as starters and lots of advice about taking a holistic approach beyond the surface levels of inclusion.

    I hope you've discovered the rich source of developer bootcamps, some of which major on getting more women into coding, which could be a good pipeline, partnering with them and getting close links with the local tech groups was one part of our marketing approach. Articulating the EVP in clear, inclusive terms was also critical and a differentiator as was showcasing existing talent and giving a real feel rather than it being too polished and perfect. Supporting employee groups and encouraging networking within the business when they join was also critical.

    In legal terms you have the answers below. Whilst we don't have affirmative action in the UK we often default to standard ways of advertising roles to attract talent and these often mean we don't reach under represented groups- we need to advertise and go where they are and perhaps also ask the recruiters we work with to always have a diverse shortlist as well.

    Good luck.
  • Hi Gemma
    What you are proposing is usually described as Positive Action, which is not discriminatory, as David says, provided you do not treat any male applicants less favourably.

    Take a look at www.stemwomen.co.uk/.../wise-1.

    Both STEM and WISE are organisations / movement aimed at increased female employment in engineering, science, tech and maths sectors. You may be able to link up with like minded employers.
    I worked on this over 20 years ago, and there is still a huge need. It's a long hill to climb, but some progress.