The Sourcer’s Role for Recruiting Women in Technical Fields

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Mar 1, 2012

I caught an interesting study courtesy of our sister publication called Solutions to Recruit Technical Women (PDF download) from the Anita Borg Institute. To call the study comprehensive, especially for one open to easy public viewing, would be an understatement. It’s 50 pages full of supporting documents, case studies and specific strategies and tactics to address an incredibly important question that many tech firms ask:

How do we get more women into technical roles?

The report dives into detail about some things that can be done but leaves the door open for more creative, custom solutions depending on the company.

A sourcer’s role

In reading through the report, there seemed to be several key areas where sourcers are often being asked to contribute, not just for specific female tech positions, but for all diversity sourcing situations. This includes from the report:

  • Build strong ties to conferences, colleges and universities, and professional organizations where there are high proportions of women from diverse backgrounds.
  • Use social networks strategically to increase the number of female candidates for technical positions and minimize homogeneity in referrals.
  • Re-think the meaning of “cultural fit” to broaden the talent pool under consideration and limit the effect of hidden bias.
  • Build gender-diverse hiring teams and showcase technical women during the interview process.
  • Set targets to hire technical women.
  • Require that every open technical position has a viable female candidate.
  • Redefine the pipeline — create alternative pathways to technical positions and establish mechanisms to bring women back to technical roles.

And though there is no formal mention of proactive sourcing, it is certainly a component of several of these key initiatives. The better prepared you are to source a diverse slate of candidates, and that includes building out some of those non-traditional routes as well.

An appendix of knowledge

The real gold of the entire report might be the appendix (which starts on page 40). It lists a whole host of resources that should add a little extra oomph to your searches if this is a point of emphasis. Major conferences, professional organizations, and networking events that target women in technical roles are on the list. And a whole host of university resources are listed based on the number of female grads. For example, the top three universities that grant bachelor degrees in computer science to women are the University of Maryland, Strayer College and Penn State. Or if you are looking at master’s degrees in CS, you should check out Arizona State, Boston University, Carnegie Mellon and Cleveland State.

Creating a compelling slate of candidates in these fields can be difficult enough without the increasing pressure of a focused diversity effort on top of it all. The important takeaways from the report from the Anita Borg Institute make it clear that it is important enough to be a point of emphasis and leaves sourcers with a document that can both help sell the critical idea and help get a head start in sourcing for these positions.

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