Best Tech Employers For Women (and a Nordic Mystery)
November 19, 2014 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Business Insider: Best Tech Employers For Women [Ranked] by Julie Bort

HOWTO recruit and retain women in tech workplacesGeek Feminism Wiki

A Nordic MysteryThe Economist: "Visit a typical Nordic company headquarters and you will notice something striking among the standing desks and modernist furniture: the senior managers are still mostly men, and most of the women are PAs. The egalitarian flame that burns so brightly at the bottom of society splutters at the top of business."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (12 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

Emily Lakdawalla comments on ESA vs. NASA:
The one thing that really surprised me was how few women there were [at ESA]. It's much worse than at NASA. NASA is much more diverse than ESA, across a lot of dimensions.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:36 AM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Differences in a lot of the companies seem to be quite small. I wish they'd tell us what their margin of error was.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:36 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Make your ads inclusive for women

I once read an engineering position that read "We are looking for an engineer with skils A,B,C. He will also have people skills and leadership experience."

I try not to get angry these days but lordy... basically they had already decided what kind of candidate they were looking for, and it wasn't me. (I was totally suited for that position fwiw.)

HOWTO make your workplace inviting to women

Sometimes people send out emails "Gentlemen, as discussed please see below..."

Makes me feel like I don't exist.

The only people who don't do this are Europeans and French Canadians; they will write "Gentlemen and lady" (since it's usually just me on the CC). No one wants to be singled out but it's better than being ignored entirely.

It's the little things like that which slowly say "you're not our kind here" and it grates on you.

HOWTO retain women you've recruited
Mentoring and advancement

Yes! I mean, so many companies are bad on this, it is not just for women. You have to aggressively search out your own mentors and develop the relationship with them; work doesn't do it in a formal way.

The other tricky thing is, what if we're going to have kids soon. I want to come back to work, but I don't want only 6 weeks off with my newborn. If tech companies allowed 6mo leave at least (Canada is 1yr), then it is easier to stay rather than quit outright and look for another job in 6-12 months, which is what I'm guessing most women do.

And don't make snide remarks when we get pregnant either. "Oh too bad you won't be here for that portion of the project" <-- a "joke" but totally laden with guilt-tripping and resentment. Like... um sorry? Am I supposed to apologize here?

My retort is: "well someone's gotta breed the next generation of engineers har har" but really it makes me stabby.

And don't mommy track them when they come back either.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:51 AM on November 19, 2014 [13 favorites]

I work for a company that has offices across the globe but the biggest ones in San Jose and Penang. We have 10 executives on our exec bio page. One asian, one woman. The rest are white males all the way.

In the rank and file? Women and minorities everywhere.

I don't really know what to say anymore when they talk about diversity. Because on the one hand the people employed in senior management appear to be doing a really good job but on the other hand, 8/10 white guys?
posted by Talez at 10:51 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ugh. There's only 4 comments on the link but the nicest one is a spambot.
posted by halifix at 11:06 AM on November 19, 2014

Ugh. There's only 4 comments on the link but the nicest one is a spambot.

Jesus Christ. And they wonder why SJWs came up with the term "shitlord".
posted by Talez at 11:28 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looking at the data and the summary does not give me a high view of the author.

- The differences in happiness, which are the lede, aren't significant - 0.1 or 0.2 out of a scale of 5
- The pay differences, which are claimed to not exist, clearly exist. They're smaller than in other industries, but, uh, 5k, around 5% difference on basically each of those listings.
posted by freyley at 12:47 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

If I could only work part-time I would too. It seems like a perfect balance, particularly if you get to work on interesting stuff and avoid all managerial tasks. And in a country where the social network is such that being a single mother is a) less likely to happen to any individual woman and b) not as economically devastating to the children.

In summary: not sure Dutch women are getting the short end of the stick here.
posted by fshgrl at 1:44 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm really surprised that Etsy isn't mentioned here. They've made a considerable effort to hire more female engineers (like sponsoring Hacker School women and hiring a handful of them, starting back in 2012), and I personally know a number of them that at the very least seem very happy there.
posted by unknownmosquito at 2:40 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Nordic Mystery link is about executive gender imbalance, but I'd say there's another Nordic mystery in how few women are actually software developers (and probably other kinds of engineers, as alluded to upthread, but I have no personal experience about that).

I work in a ten-man design-led, somewhat artisanal web and mobile development contractor company in Finland. Yes, just men, unfortunately. As the self-appointed semi-official feminism advocate of the bunch, I'm frustrated at our seeming inability to attract female software developers to apply for open positions. We got close to hiring a female designer once, but she had multiple offers and ended up choosing another one.

We've had, IIRC, two women apply to open coding positions ever, but they were not close enough to the top male applicants that we could have reasonably considered reverse discrimination at the time. (We were just 4-5 strong and severely output-constrained, and could not afford to put diversity ahead of raw day one capability yet. We've grown since, and that is slowly becoming an option.)

Reading the Geek Feminism article, I can clearly see that we're not doing any of the actively woman-repelling things. Our web site, messaging and job listings are neutral and mature. We don't advertise ourselves as brogrammer types or offer pool tables, parties and gaming; our average age is over 30, and Finland has no frat culture to begin with. We always try to emphasize our actual strengths: aesthetic sensibilities combined with technical capability and UX thinking, not specific technologies, since we recognize that a competent developer will pick up new stuff quickly, when necessary. I'm sure we're not yet doing everything we absolutely can in terms of actively drawing in female applicants, but there seems to be an underlying societal problem here that no single company can overcome.

I have a friend who is the only woman in her year at the CS program of the local university, and she's only there because she decided to switch careers; she's over 30 and among a bunch of men in their early twenties. It seems to be the same every year: from zero to a mere handful of women. Stories I've heard indicate that the situation is the same in basically all CS and software engineering programs around the country.

Finnish university education is free, so nearly the entire pool of tech job applicants has a bachelor's or master's degree or is working towards one. The majority of university students are women, which means they're not even applying to study CS or software engineering. Overall gender equality in Finland is at the expected decent Nordic level, but computer stuff is seen as a men's field and there's very little activism to try and change that. Here's a completely unsupported hypothesis of mine: it's almost like Finnish women at large don't really even care: they have so many other opportunities available to them that the usual sexist undercurrent about tech fields being boys' fields in their upbringing and lower education causes them to just gravitate towards other interests early on rather than fight for inclusion in tech later on. I have no real evidence for this and I'm open to criticism, but it would explain a lot. Hard to attract female talent when the supply is so low. This is not to say that sexism wouldn't play a role in hiring decisions, but I'm almost certain there is an even deeper, less obvious issue here.
posted by jklaiho at 6:37 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

I need to clarify something: when I say "almost like Finnish women at large don't really even care", I'm referring to experiences since my high school years, when precisely none of the girls expressed an interest in computer-related jobs. There may have been silent exceptions, but the overwhelming attitude among the girls was that computer work was unattractive in itself, reserved for complete nerds and the socially inept, and "guys can keep it" was implied. It wasn't that they thought they couldn't make it because of sexism. (High school kids aren't really aware of sexism in the first place, in Finland at least. We had no Silicon Valley or any big software success stories. The reasons for these attitudes are of course complex, inherited and bidirectionally sexist, but that's another topic.)

This also seemed to be the case in the IT-focused "vocational university" that I later attended. The gender balance was way better than in CS programs nowadays, but coding was a male niche there, too. It's only in recent years, following the success of Rovio and Supercell, that the field has started to appear less like the fiddling of sweaty neckbeards that it previously did, so I'm cautiously positive about a better gender balance in the future. Parents and teachers have a huge responsibility here.
posted by jklaiho at 10:28 PM on November 19, 2014

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