So, you want to hire more women into your technical teams: Part 3

Are under qualified women applying at a great rate, or is it you?

So, you want to hire more women into your technical teams: Part 3

So, you want to hire more women in your tech team - Part 3

Having diversity in your technical teams isn’t just a ‘nice to have’, the research around business outcomes is strong and has existed for over a decade. But that doesn’t mean you are failing if you aren’t there yet. 

In Part 1 of this series, we acknowledge that improving diversity in your technical teams isn’t easy and isn’t a quick fix. We talked about looking into the ‘why’ behind your decision to work on improving diversity. In Part 2, we look at ways to make sure you can attract women technologists to your organisation.

The Four Stages

There are four stages to hiring more women into your technical teams:

  1. Evaluate
  2. Attract
  3. Hire
  4. Retain

If you haven’t read them, we’d recommend reviewing Stages 1 and 2.



You’ve reached the stage where women are applying to your company! This step is about how to shape your hiring process to find candidates who are a good fit.

Review your hiring process for implicit bias

The first step is to review your hiring process for implicit bias: where we make unintended actions based on stereotypes or prejudice. There are many studies which show that better rubrics and systems help remove bias and improve decision-making.

To do this, ask: 

Is our current hiring process designed to help us hire people who are a good fit for [the role]?

Processes often favour candidates based on factors that have nothing to do with their aptitude for the role. For instance, if you find yourself in a hiring meeting and feel like an interview candidate is “a great culture fit, because you’d love to have a drink with them.”, then this is a sign there is time for some self-reflection. This is not to feel like you’re being told off, we all do it! Change occurs when we’re aware we’re doing it and put some measures in place as a sense-check.

If what you want is to hire people to drink with, then please - go ahead and hire that person! But, I believe you’re more in the business of creating great software, so the evaluation criteria should measure:

  • Technical foundations
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Leadership (depending on level)
  • Collaboration/Teamwork
  • Security mindset
  • Ability to take feedback/Coachability
  • Testing/Quality mindset

Avoid “culture fit” or affinity bias and instead look to “cultural additions.” Even great cultures can stagnate over time, and the industry will grow and shift. Look for people who will continue to nudge your culture in a healthy direction. Coach your team in collaboration and feedback so they can bridge differences in a constructive manner.

We recommend interviewers use interview score cards that consist of recognising the skill that they are looking for, scoring guidelines and potential interview questions. This helps guide the interview towards ensuring that skills being evaluated are covered, and the candidate is given the best opportunity to showcase their strengths. Also, candidates appreciate clarity in knowing what you are looking for. 

For example, if you were looking at front end coding as a skill, you would want the applicant to demonstrate the ability to design, build, extend and maintain front-end systems that provide a good user experience.
You would then want to consider a scoring guideline along the lines of:

5 = Candidate has pioneered creation of  design systems in past roles and shows strong understanding of recent front-end paradigms.

4 = Candidate demonstrated a strong understanding of front-end concepts and gave a specific example of how they have tackled complex challenges in a front-end framework.

3 = Candidate demonstrated experience with and a working knowledge of front-end paradigms, though has not had the opportunity to go deep, shows excitement for improving this skill.

2 = Candidate has incorrect assumptions about the front-end or sees it as less important than server programming.

1 = Candidate sees front-end programming as beneath them, and is not interested in building this capability, or shows contempt for front-end programmers.

A potential interview question could be:
“Can you walk us through the process of designing and implementing a recent front-end project you’re particularly proud of? Please include the technologies used, how you ensured the application was responsive and accessible, and any challenges you faced in implementation?”

Note that this gives the candidate the freedom to find a way to best demonstrate their experience and expertise while also being explicit about what you are asking them for, and what you are looking for in your answer.
It also provides space for interviewers to practise their active listening skills. To be a good interviewer, you need to listen attentively, understand what they’re saying, respond and reflect on what’s being said, and retain the information for later. If you do this well, it leads to valuable follow up questions, such as:

“How did you measure the success of the project in terms of performance and user engagement?”

Be aware that the candidate is evaluating you and your company based upon the questions that you ask of them. They are also interviewing you, so focus your interview and question time on the areas that you value as an organisation, whether it is maintainability, accessibility and that you are facing as an organisation currently. 

This is a great time to share a little about what your company is working on that is relevant to the candidate and the role they are applying for, and to get them excited about working with you as a company. Just make sure that you aren’t accidentally dominating the conversation.

Who your candidate sees on the interview panel, and around the office tells them alot about the team they are joining, do your best to set this to be a positive and inclusive experience for them. I’m a fan of trying to make sure that even unsuccessful candidates turn into brand advocates. 

Just in case it needs to be said, avoid asking women “are you technical enough?”........ Because it PISSES them off, and rightly so. 

Diverse candidates failing the interview process

If you have women applying but not getting through the interview process, it’s a great time to pause and reassess your interview process. As we said in Part 1, we are not advocating for hiring people who aren’t suitable for the role, but if women aren’t making it through the interview process, stop and consider;  are under qualified women applying at a great rate, or is it you? And if women are applying, but then opting out of the process, ask yourself why.   
Again, I don’t want you to hire unqualified women. That creates a situation where nobody wins - not your company and definitely not the women hired for a role they can’t succeed in. BUT, it is a fallacy that technically proficient women don’t exist, or that they get through interviews easily. 

Offer equal pay for equal work

It may be surprising that pay equity is still an issue in 2024, but last year’s Nobel Prize in economics went to Claudia Golden who studied this issue. It is still a very real thing.

Everyone knows that it is illegal to pay people different amounts for the same job because of their gender. No one is arguing that, but what tends to happen in the industry is more nuanced. In technology, often underrepresented people are promoted at slower rates, this leads to them having job titles and being in pay bands that are below the work that they are delivering.

There is a pervasive myth that women are paid less because they don’t ask for pay rises or higher amounts of money at performance review time. Harvard Business Review suggests that this isn't the case, and that women ask for pay rises at the same rate as men, but are less likely to be given them. In addition, they are often penalised for having asked in the first place.

One challenge is the expectation that applicants provide their current compensation. Basing future salaries based on past values could perpetuate pay inequity. 

Take some time to reflect:

  • Do you base the salary of new hires on their past salary at a different company?
  • Do you have transparent pay at your organisation?
  • Do you assess employees skills and work to ensure they are matched to their job title (and therefore pay band)?
  • Do you track who asks for pay rises and/or promotions and who gets them?

Hire women at various levels at your company

There are amazing grad programs in organisations, as well as recruitment drives and support for career changers. This is needed in our industry, but not all women are juniors. It’s worth considering that it will take a very long time to improve your diversity if the only part of your plan is to hire junior women and promote them. In Australia (and many other parts of the world), women leave technology at double the rate of men, a big reason behind this attrition is lack of career progression, and if junior women can’t see opportunities to be a senior, then it suggests that technology is not a place that they belong. We will explore this in more detail in Part 4: Retain.

Having women in senior positions can demonstrate there is room for growth in the organisation. It also establishes role models, and ensures that women’s voices are included in decision-making. When you hire women into senior roles, it will make it easier to hire women into roles below them because it provides representation. Often more senior women are only willing to go to organisations that will treat them well, so it is a quick ‘safety check’ for juniors.

Hiring women at various levels at your company looks like:

  • Running a grad / junior program that supports women
  • Hiring women into EM roles
  • Hiring women into executive leadership positions

For stage 3, you need to work through the following steps:

  • Review your hiring process for implicit bias
  • Offer equal pay for equal work
  • Hire women at various levels at your company

Our team has spent decades working on how to hire more diverse technical teams, if you want some more help with this process, get in touch.

Part 1: Evaluate

Part 2: Attract

Part 4: Retain