SAN FRANCISCO – Technical recruiter Speak With A Geek (SWAG) is using its voice in the industry to raise awareness about the unique challenges faced by women in technology. The Bay Area agency hopes to educate and provide a deeper analysis into the topic of a lack of female representation in technology.
“Beginning almost at birth, girls receive subtle messaging that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are for not for them. Everything from gendered toys, stereotypical advertisements, and even the subtle suggestions by parents and teachers can steer girls in directions outside of STEM subjects,” said Sarah Noyes, Director of Diversity & Inclusion at SWAG.
On average, only 18 percent of computer science degree holders are women. Recent studies by U.S. researchers analyzed nearly 1.4 million Github users and found that code change suggestions made by women are more likely to be accepted on the open-source code sharing platform than those made by men, but only if their gender is hidden. When their gender is identifiable, there is a decrease in acceptance rate by 16.1 percent, demonstrating a bias against the perceived ability of women in tech. Concerns about pregnancy, maternity leave, and childcare factor into the hiring decisions of many employers, leaving women at an even further disadvantage.
“For those women who do manage to overcome these obstacles to find employment in the industry, the challenges don’t end there. Women entering the technology space are 45 percent more likely than their male peers to leave the field within a year,” said Noyes, quoting a study published in the Harvard Business Review in 2014.
Noyes says that micro-aggressions; often in the form of sexist language or jokes, is pervasive in technology. Other factors influencing exit from the industry by women include lack of accommodations for nursing mothers, non-flexible work schedules, and an extreme shortage of female mentors.
SWAG notes that these biases keep women from technology in three phases: As young girls, they’re pushed towards non-STEM subjects; as young women entering the tech workforce they face heightened scrutiny and bias from hiring managers; and then once employed in the sector, they’re driven out due to a non-inclusive work environment. Each subsequent phase leaves fewer women in the industry.
“Awareness is the first step toward enacting change,” says Noyes. “By bringing attention to these three phases of bias, we hope to inspire solutions in the industry. Everyone should be presented with equal opportunities,” adds Grant Conyers, Executive Vice President, Speak With A Geek.
Founded in 1999, SWAG has evolved into a leading technical recruiter that provides top employers access to millions of fully vetted candidates. SWAG works closely with businesses and enterprises to help them meet their diversity goals. Fifty-six percent of the SWAG community is made up of diverse candidates. For more information on SWAG’s platform and how it will revolutionize the technology hiring space, visit speakwithageek.com.
Sarah S. Noyes
Sarah S. Noyes, alumna of the United States Military Academy at West Point, is the Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Speak with A Geek (SWAG), a top technical talent agency founded in 1999 and based in San Francisco. With a community of vetted Geeks millions strong, Sarah ensures diversity within SWAG’s talent pool and is a strong advocate in the tech industry for the importance of providing opportunities in technology to women, minorities, and talent with other underrepresented identities.
Her belief is that inclusive technology teams benefit the industry and society as a whole by incorporating unique perspectives, increasing innovation, enhancing problem solving, and improving employee retention and workplace morale. She is passionate about the technological advancements made possible by creating more space for people of all backgrounds and identities in tech, and for diversity and inclusion to be considered not only a business initiative driven by profits, but a moral priority at its core.
Both Sarah’s personal and professional interests in diversity and inclusion extend far beyond her time with SWAG. Sarah was adopted from Seoul, Korea as a toddler by a New England Caucasian family. She grew up and graduated from a non-diverse high school before accepting an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where women were less than 15 percent of the graduating class. She attributes her passion for diversity and inclusion to her time in the Army where she served as a Human Resources Officer. Prior to SWAG, Sarah was a diversity talent strategist in the fintech sector. Since coming to SWAG, Sarah has been able to blend each of her interests and skills together as Director of Diversity & Inclusion.
Sarah currently lives in Cupertino, California. Between working to diversify the technology workspace and her involvement in the community, Sarah can be found in a yoga class or watching NHL hockey. Her favorite teams are the Washington Capitals, the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks, all teams that represent places that she has called home.
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