Last October I had a ’one on one’ with my team lead and we started talking about how we could reach out to more female developers when recruiting. We shared our different experiences and he mentioned that his experience from a recruitment perspective was that women more often than men have a tendency to doubt themselves when being asked to do something they haven’t done before, and more specifically he had seen this over and over again regarding writing tests for code. We came up with the idea to hold a guest lecture for the students currently attending the developer bootcamp that I myself attended last spring.
The bootcamp is called Technigo and it’s a 24 week high paced course where the participants will learn the basics of web development, and they have approximately 80% female participants. We decided that the topic for the lecture should be focusing on something we do on a daily basis, which is writing tests. How and why we test our code at GetAccept, and how they can get started with writing tests themselves.
We pitched the idea and it was met with warm welcomes both at GetAccept and Technigo. I was thrilled, I had only been working at GetAccept for about a month when the planning started. It was so much fun to experience that not only did people want to listen to my thoughts and ideas but that they were also encouraged.
Give someone else the chance to lead
When we started planning the lecture, my team lead said 'You should take the driver's seat on this one, because I also want to learn'. That sentence got me thinking of a question I asked during my first technical interview, the question was something like 'what do you do at GetAccept to not only increase the amount of female developers but also make sure they stay'. I was told ‘we do our absolute best to listen’. I have had the great pleasure to experience this first hand, and it has made me feel tremendously welcomed.
The challenge of improving gender gap
When wanting to improve gender gaps, listening is a great start. It can be the smallest of things, if you're looking to recruit to a department where there are less women. Ask a woman at said department to read through the application before posting it. Ask her if it sounds like a job she would apply for. If it doesn’t, ask why, lean back and listen some more. Another question that can be asked at companies or departments with a large gender gap is ”would you encourage a female friend to apply for a job here”. Going straight to the source for knowledge is one of the easiest and fastest ways to see things from a different perspective and it will make it a lot easier to improve the workplace, one question at a time.