Technology companies that want to increase the number of women in their ranks may want to take a page from the National Football League's playbook, according to a new report.
Women are just as likely as men to get a high-tech job if they are in the pool of candidates being considered, the report finds. The report recommends that companies include at least one viable female candidate for every position it tries to fill. It's a similar approach to the NFL's "Rooney Rule," which mandates that every team looking to fill a head coaching position consider at least one candidate from a racial minority before filling the spot, the report notes.
The report, "Solutions to Recruit Technical Women," draws on academic research and internal data from technology companies including International Business Machines, Intel and Cisco. Produced by the Palo Alto, Calif. research and advocacy group the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, the report is set to be published Tuesday.
To strengthen the pipeline of women applying for technical roles, the report suggests encouraging female employees to refer candidates from their social and pr ofessional networks. Men are traditionally more likely than women to find jobs through such networks, the report finds. At IBM about 30% of the women it hires worldwide come from such referrals.
Janet Guyon, Managing editor of FINS, talks about getting more women in tech.
Companies can also change the language they use in job postings to encourage women to apply. Nouns and adjectives associated with male stereotypes, like "assertive," "driven" and even "coding ninja," can signal to women that a company isn't open to hiring them for technical roles. Instead, the report suggests using less subjective language that focuses on "measurable and quantifiable criteria."
The report also recommends that more women be included in the recruitment and hiring process to remove bias in hiring. Hiring managers tend to hire candidates who resemble themselves; having women on hiring teams increases the likelihood of women getting the job.
Companies that are serious about hiring women for technical roles should tie diversity goals to executive performance reviews. "Making an organizational commitment to diversity in performance reviews and goal setting is really important to making a change," said Denise Gammal, a co-author of the report and director of corporate partnerships at Anita Borg.
Executives should make clear to recruiting firms they want to see women as candidates, the report finds. By doing so at Intuit, Chief Technology Officer Tayloe Stansbury was able to fill two of four technical vice president roles with women, the report says.
Write to Joseph Walker at Joseph.Walker@dowjones.com