How to hire more female engineers: All the tactics and the tools

Women in tech have always been tough to find. According to a report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, women hold only 25% of all technical roles globally, and when it comes to tech leadership roles, the number falls less than 5%. 

When hiring for tech roles, recruiters face the problem of having their pipeline flooded with male candidates with next to none women in sight. Hence, with the help of staffing specialists here at Xpheno, we have a comprehensive guide for you to find female engineers in India. 

In this article, get to know:

  • Why you need a diversity sourcing strategy
  • How to hire more women in engineering
  • How to use Linkedin for diversity sourcing
  • How to do Boolean search for female engineers
  • More ways to have a balanced workforce

But first, why female engineers? Well..

Women perform better, studies say so.

Harvard Business Review conducted a survey on managers across the U.S to give scores to their male and female employees on their professional skills- a variety of technical and soft skills. In 17 out of 19 categories, women scored higher than male employees. The survey had been conducted on a diverse set of fields including STEM fields, such as IT, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science. 

Huge talent pool

Statistics showcase great potential for sourcing female candidates in the country, revealing that India has the highest proportion of female engineers around the world participating in Hackerrank tests.

Diversity leads to better innovations for the customers.

A study by Center for Diversity and Research found that companies with better diversity ratios were 158% more likely to innovate effectively for their end-users. Another research from Kellogg School suggests that cognitively diverse teams outperform less diverse groups in solving hard problems. 

A diverse work-team becomes especially important when companies are looking for creative solutions for technical problems. Hence, engineers too are looking for skilled, diverse talent to work with and progressive employers to work for. 

There are a lot more cases for why having a diverse team is good for business. And we know that to create a well balanced team, companies need to go a lot further than just having more women. But for this article, we would focus on how to source more women and tap into a diverse pool of competent candidates.

How to hire more female engineers

To hire more women, you need a pipeline that enables sourcing of women. Here are a few essentials to check: 

Create inclusive job descriptions: 

Job descriptions are usually the first touchpoint for candidates applying for jobs at your company. That is why make sure you pay close attention to the words in your JD to attract female candidates. 

Use specific job titles

Crafting the right job title plays a huge role in hiring female engineers. A Linkedin business report suggests that women were more selective than men when applying for jobs, as women were 16% less likely to apply for positions they had viewed. Moreover, they were less likely to apply for senior roles and positions that did not completely align with their skillset.

Hence, job descriptions should be made specific. 

  • Focus on putting appropriate criteria and responsibilities for the role. 
  • Differentiate between what’s really a requirement and what’s just a nice-to-have. 

For instance, in a job posting for a Front-end Developer, knowledge of UI-UX design should be put in a separate nice-to-have section, so that more female candidates are encouraged to apply. 

Keep the language gender neutral

Avoid buzzwords like- ninja, guru or rockstar, these put off candidates from diverse backgrounds, since the words carry masculine undertones. And in any case, these words don’t add much value to help find competent engineers. 

Include EEO declaration in Job postings

You should include an equal employment opportunity statement that encourages job applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply. The policy signals that the company supports diversity and inclusion at the workplace and aims to establish the same. 

Employee Testimonials

When it comes to hiring, your employees can be the best (or the worst) advertisers. Ask your employees to refer female engineers. You can also talk to female employees and get their opinion on the company culture, if they feel that it is inclusive to women. 

Make your pipeline accessible to women

Women attract women. Therefore, to attract female candidates, it is important to have more women in the hiring funnel. If you don’t have female hiring managers or engineers in the said department, get women product managers or QA engineers involved in the process. 

Along with this, you can share instances and initiatives of diverse hiring on social platforms like linkedin and Facebook, and in other PR places to attract diverse talent. 

How to find female engineers

There are strategies to create a targeted search for female candidates. Here are a few of those: 

Find communities of women in engineering.

Platforms like Codeproject, Github, Hackerearth and Women who Code have rapidly growing communities of software developers. You can find communities of dedicated engineers on these platforms who are actively participating in contests. Hence, you get access to a rich talent pool of engineers including many women software engineers by posting jobs on these website portals. 

Perform a Boolean search on Linkedin

Companies are employing diversity engines, but the studies show that women put 16% less keywords than men with equal qualifications and experience as themselves. This means that fewer qualified women are applying for jobs, and this is a trend not limited to women but to all marginalized groups. Hence, in order to hire more women, you can go a step further and do a boolean search for female candidates.

One of the popular means is to perform a name search on Linkedin. 

  • Create a Boolean search on Linkedin.
  • Specify the technology and location for the candidate profile.
  • Then, add a boolean operator with a variety of names in the field. 
  • You can pick up the list of most popular female Indian names from Wikipedia. 
  • The algorithm would filter out women candidates that fit the criteria. 

Use Twitter to run hashtag search

Another great method is to use socials like twitter and run hashtag search. There are tools like Followerwonk and Tweeple search that allow you to find twitter bios that align with your search. Using these tools, you can put in the location and keywords like developer, engineer, mechanical engineer, and so on. Then put in tags related to women engineers, such as: #womenengineers, #womenwhocode, #womeninstem, #girlswhocode etc. It would filter out profiles using these hashtags and location. Using the data you can reach out to potential candidates and share job opportunities. 

How to retain female engineers 

Once you have sourced plenty of female engineers and hired them successfully, retaining the talent becomes the next challenge. ETSY, an American e-commerce platform, made their number of female engineers increase by about 5 times in a single year. According to Kellan Elliott-McCrea, CTO at Etsy, a company should not only be a ‘great place to work’, but a ‘great place for women to work’. ETSY made diversity their priority 10 years ago. But to increase their engineering team to double the industry benchmark, the key lesson learnt was not to lower the standards but to make women feel welcomed. 

The Bottom line

We have discussed some of the steps you can take to make hiring neutral and form a diverse workforce. Here goes a few pointers to keep in mind: 

  • Train talent acquisition teams to address unconscious biases and source diverse candidates. 
  • Use the above mentioned tactics and tools to develop a diversity sourcing strategy, and counter the challenges of recruitment and selection of female engineers.

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