By Allie Wahl SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — A new study from researchers at Stanford University suggests that if experts want to know why there’s a lack of women in technology, they should start by looking at the average recruiting sessions.
This study published by Alison Wynn, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and Stanford sociology professor Shelley Correll observed more than 80 recruiting sessions at a university. They witnessed different practices in recruiting sessions, such as presentations without female representation, gender stereotypes and references to a male-dominated culture. Wynn and Correll say these behaviors contributed to a “chilly climate” that can deter women from the field.
Stephanie Worden is the undergraduate recruiter at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Worden says she found the results of the study surprising.
“I just thought that at least a recruiter would be sensitive to the pipeline problem to be aware of that, so I think we have a lot of work to do to solve that particular problem,” said Worden.
Besides just getting women into these jobs, Worden said another problem is getting women to stay. According to statistics from the National Center for Women and Information Technology, or NCWIT, the quit rate among women in the high-tech industry is twice as high than it is for men.
“We need to help women persist,” said Worden. “While I may be able to recruit a lot of really amazing, smart women, they don’t stay in the career because it’s not really friendly to women.”
While this study looked at recruiting sessions at just one university, women at the iSchool at Syracuse University understand the experiences and agree that companies could make some changes.
Worden said companies should have awareness for the candidates that they are recruiting. She suggested that recruiters make sure they treat women just as competent as men in technical roles.
Khandice Dyson is a senior at the iSchool, and while she says she’s had positive experiences, she still thinks companies can improve.
“I think holding different sessions like outside of the typical recruiting session,” recommended Dyson. “Hold a women’s empowerment luncheon or summit or a minority summit or a minority inclusion day. Something like that to appeal to the different communities.”
According to the NCWIT, the percentage of women with undergraduate degrees in STEM has been increasing over the last 20 years, but during the same time period, the percentage of women in related jobs has decreased. Even so, Dyson is optimistic about future progress.
“It motivates me more than anything because I feel like woman have such power when they walk into a room and can really steal the show and also impress the whole room, so I think it’s a lot of pressure, for sure, but I think it’s something I’m looking forward to rising to the challenge,” said Dyson.
Wynn and Correll say they hope their study brings awareness to companies in the behavior that is exhibited during recruiting sessions. Their hope is that companies can use this awareness to increase the representation of women within tech companies, and in turn, increase the pipeline of women interested in these jobs.