So, you want to hire more women into your technical teams: Part 4

"We would really love to have women engineers on our team, but none apply"

So, you want to hire more women into your technical teams: Part 4

Hiring women into technical teams

Gosh, what a journey this has been - welcome to Part 4 of the series: Retain.

I’d like to reflect on a key point from Part 1, perfectionism is the enemy of progress. I’m sure that everyone here is strong with continuous improvement, this is a great place to apply the same theory; let’s aim to improve, be better than we were, learn from mistakes and move forward.

The Four Stages

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

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

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. 

In Part 3, there’s exploration of how to hire women into your tech teams.


By this point your company is becoming more diverse. This step is about setting up your new hires for success, so they excel at your company, which will both help your product and make it easier to attract even more diverse talent.

Provide opportunities for mentorship

Mentoring is a really great way to grow your talent, produce better employees, and also keep people engaged. Larger companies may have enough opportunity to offer mentorship programs. While it can be helpful for women to have female role models at their company, having a male mentor, who is focused on nurturing and developing their talent, can also be a great opportunity for both participants.

Recognise growth through promotion

Provide opportunities for evaluation and growth, and be sure to recognise outstanding work accordingly. You can use the same techniques for mitigating bias in hiring to evaluate your promotion cycle. Consider the “Prove-it-again” bias, a phenomenon where men are evaluated on potential or a single demonstration, while women are expected to repeatedly demonstrate recent past experience. Understanding these patterns helps us identify and mitigate it.

One of the best ways to support women in their career is through sponsorship: when a leader champions someone through the promotion process and actively ensures they get the opportunities to develop and demonstrate. 

Promoting based on data points also helps eliminate bias. Organisations that have implemented career growth frameworks that are fair and recognise skills that both strengthen and support (soft skills) as well as those that help build and execute (hard skills) set themselves up with the ability to promote and train staff according to their skills and demonstrated behaviour, as opposed to gut feel.

Support DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) internally

Internal support of DEI is another factor that keeps women happy at their company. Small companies with little budget can still run these programs, or encourage and support their diverse employees to participate in external community groups such as Tech Leading Ladies. As companies grow, many form Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as a way of supporting initiatives and creating a sense of belonging. These tend to succeed more when the leadership of such works is categorised as real work for the organisation rather than just volunteering. This means supporting DEI as part of the organisation’s “currency” and setting expectations around time commitments. For larger companies, full-time staff supporting DEI can supplement part-time members and compensate for the emotional labour behind this work. I have seen organisations encourage allies to take part in the labour of these groups as well. 

Establish HR processes

Lack of HR / ad-hoc processes is a challenge in smaller organisations (or even those going through transition). Nonetheless, this is a risk area that is good to prepare for.

Provide parent-friendly policies

While parent-friendly policies can be good for employees regardless of gender, women often disproportionately benefit from them, both because of the physical burdens that pregnancy and childbirth place on them, but also because of societal expectations that are often placed on mothers.

Allow parents to work flexibly

Parents may need to work remotely to take care of sick kids, take children to appointments, attend parent/teacher interviews or arrange dropoff/pickup from daycare or school. Working flexibility might mean an altered start or finish time, or taking a designated ‘school drop off break’. An effective work and family life balance helps ensure people are focused when they are at work knowing their family life is not being neglected. 

Flexible working arrangements are good for most people, not just parents. This topic lends itself to an entire blog post of its own.

Train managers about maternity leave

Despite its legal protections, women face professional consequences for getting pregnant. Make sure your managers are trained to make applying for leave an easy process.

Having a maternity leave plan framework that includes supported discussion around staying in touch during time off, training opportunities, and a return to work plan empower managers and employees to have really clear boundaries and expectations and can be the difference in making this a great experience. 

Promote paternity leave

Under the law, fathers are provided paternity leave. Encourage them to take advantage of it, because it normalises men sharing duties that stereotypically fall to women.

Establish lactation spaces

Lactating mothers need privacy, calm, and a sanitary space to pump breast milk, otherwise they may experience intense pain, and their baby may not get proper nutrition. Also make sure your staff understand that the lactation space is a restricted space—interruptions such as coworkers barging into the door looking for a conference room, or interns using the space to take naps can cause mothers undue stress.

Prohibit overtime

Expectations of overtime tend to favour men, who are more likely to have a wife to take care of household duties such as cleaning, cooking, and childcare. Even when both partners in heterosexual couples work, there is often an expectation that the woman takes on a larger share of the household duties (known as “The Second Shift”). Setting reasonable work hours helps level the playing field, and may have added benefits of preventing burnout among all employees.

A great Australian based business that can help you with this work is Project F.

Putting it all together

What’s next? Remember, DEI is a journey, not a destination. Celebrate your successes, and keep growing. Look for ways your organisation can support intersectional diversity, such as LGBTQIA+, disability, neurodiversity, and nationality or culture.

We’ve covered a lot of content over the last 4 weeks, we will put it all together in our conclusion instalment next week.

If you want a hand with this, please just reach out.