Barriers to Entry

Broad Experience is a podcast I listen to regularly. It’s a thoughtful interview show about the experience of women in the workplace.

One recent episode mentioned the lack of women in tech, which hits close to home (87% of of people who follow me on Twitter are male). It’s a complex issue and there’s no quick panacea, but there is at least one easy step companies can take recruit more female engineers: remove requirements from a job description that aren’t actually requirements.

“There’s been research that shows many women will only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the qualifications,” said Erik Michaels-Ober of Soundcloud. “Whereas men will do so even if they meet some smaller percentage. They’re willing to put themselves out there even if they’re not fully qualified.”

“So we looked at a lot of things,” said Erik. “For example, having a college degree was a requirement on a lot of our jobs. But when we looked internally, we realized had hired a lot of male engineers who didn’t have a college degree because they had decided to apply anyway.”

Since Soundcloud removed degree requirements from some positions, recruiting of female engineers has gone up. This obviously doesn’t solve everything as women engineers are still only around 15% of the workforce, but it is at least moving in the right direction.

Companies may not be aware of how they unintentionally deter women from applying, but removing superfluous job requirements seems like an easy change that would benefit everyone.

The full episode is here. There’s also an earlier episode solely devoted to women in technology. And I always highly recommend the episode on salary negotiations.

About Devin

I'm a WordPress developer based in Austin, Texas. I run a little theme shop called DevPress and work for a startup called Nano. Find me on twitter @devinsays.

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