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Alexa, how do we hire more female Engineers?

Written by Rhona Kennedy
28/05/19 - 11:34

UNESCO reckons that voice assistants have female voices because of a much wider problem; the under-representation of women in tech. There’s a school of thought that these subservient, polite AIs are dangerously reinforcing negative gender stereotypes, too, but perhaps that’s a bigger issue/one for another day!


The tech skills shortage in Scotland is well publicised, and there is a particular shortage of women in the industry. How do we address this imbalance? Answers on the back of a postcard!


Perhaps one oft-quoted statistic is a helpful demonstration of why we see fewer women in senior tech roles/working on cool stuff like voice assistants; men will apply for a role that they’re 60% qualified for, but women may only apply if they feel they’re 100% qualified. Maybe thinking about the language we use when writing job specs and adverts can help with this?


Parenting is perhaps more equally divided now than a generation ago, but the brunt of parenting duties still fall to women and working alongside family duties is undoubtedly tough. Maybe flexible working/working from home can help? It is not common to see part-time roles in tech; would this help?


I volunteer with Girl Geek Scotland () and these are common themes which crop up when we discuss the gender imbalance in tech (which we often do!) – plus the general level of intimidation a lone female can feel when confronted with a room full of “men in suits” or an interview panel of “brogrammers”. More female representation at tech events, and on interview panels, would maybe encourage more female presence?


If you are a female working in tech, is there anything which companies can do in their hiring process to help you out?


If you’re a hiring manager, have you found any successful methods for boosting the diversity of your team?


I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Rhona Kennedy

Senior Recruitment Consultant