AlleyWatch Feature: Hiring Female Tech Talent in NYC: An Open Source Experiment
I just wrote a piece for AlleyWatch about the difficulty I’ve experienced in hiring female engineers at Chartbeat. We’re hoping to source some great ideas from people like you – so please share ideas and opinions in the Comments below. You can read the whole piece here, but enjoy this snippet below.
Like a number of growing startups in New York City, the Chartbeat engineering roster is impressive – and getting larger by the day. Since our second round of funding in April 2012, Chartbeat has more than doubled in size, hiring 39 new employees, including 16 engineers. Hiring developers in general is no easy task, as FastCompany explained in Why Your Startup Can’t Find Developers. So we’re incredibly proud of our growth, but there is one huge, glaring gap: we don’t have a single female engineer – and we never have in our four years of existence. And that simply must, no questions asked, change.
As Head of Talent at Chartbeat, this responsibility rests with me, and I will tell you that since I joined about a year ago, we’ve tried everything, from traditional job postings to leveraging our seemingly cool company brand at every opportunity, but we’ve continued to fail at hiring female technical talent.
The bad and good news is: we are not alone in this problem.
Hiring female engineers isn’t a novel issue. The New York City Economic Development Corp says that only 9.8% of the female workforce is employed in a tech-related industry in the city, even though 39% of women with a bachelor’s degree majored in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. So why aren’t they joining us? There’s no simple or one answer, so I won’t even try to break it all down. It’s pretty obvious that the stories hitting the front page of ValleyWag every day about the latest Pax Dickinson or the latest rage-inducing brogrammer culture example aren’t helping to solve the problem.. But the division starts long before the workplace. According to a 2010 study conducted by Women in Computer Science (WiCS) at Stanford, only 15% of all computer science undergrads were female. A gap in education this severe no doubt directly influences the genetic makeup of the tech scene.
But we know all this stuff. We’ve heard about it ad nauseam. So why are we bringing it up? To be honest, we need your help.
While “changing the ratio” is discussed constantly by smart folks like Rachel Sklar who are leading the charge, both on and off social media, on conference panels, in blog posts, and in the tech pressbecause it’s such a far-reaching issue (much farther than just the male-to-female ratio). And the tactical challenge of hiring female talent isn’t addressed all that often.
Like many problems in the tech industry, the issue of available female engineers might best be addressed through open sourcing, so that’s what we’re doing. We’re doing this publicly and transparently to address this issue head-on in a personal way, rather than as a theoretical discussion. I’m sharing what we know right now, what we need to learn, and how we plan to get the knowledge we need in order to create actionable plans going forward, so you can tell us what we’re doing wrong and how we can do a better job.
Keep reading here. And please let me know what you think in the Comments!