It's a known fact that women are still a minority in the STEM field. In 2015, most countries world-wide concluded that women only make up a quarter (or less) of the STEM workforce (Source). This hot issue is a monster with many heads, one head that seems to tower over all others is how do we lower the barrier of entry for women in the STEM workforce? To answer this, we have to understand a few other questions first, starting with: What is interview bias and how do we stop it? How do we make the recruiting process more of a conversation and less of an “expectation?,” and of course, what do I mean by all of that?
Everyone was new to the job market at some point; I think we often forget that. If you’re hiring or are a part of recruiting you’re met with an extreme balancing act of acquiring someone who fits the talent bill, but also resounds with company culture.
One culprit that makes it difficult for anyone going through the interview process, but specifically women and minorities is a little something called interview bias. Interview bias is one of the reasons that before the twenty-first century, you often didn’t see women in the tech industry. For the longest time, women could barely get past the interviewing process because they weren’t being graded for their skills, but their gender. It wasn’t until about the turn of the century that a study concluded, if people are judged on their skills alone during interviews, more women are hired (Source).
Interview bias is different than discrimination because most of the time it is subconscious. One particular type of interview bias called “Affective Heuristic,” also known as implicit bias, blurs our judgement through superficial conclusions (Source). Affective Heuristic can happen right when you “size-up” a potential candidate. One glance at someone and you notice everything from their height to whether it looks like they shower regularly. Hiring decisions then can be influenced by age, appearance, race, or gender all irrelevant to what role the individual plays in the company. It's the reason why people say that attractive or tall people are more likely to get hired (Source). It’s also responsible for that one famous question specifically targeted at women: “What are your family goals?” Interview biases create misguided assumptions that women are directly related to the domestic sphere, and it is a hard nut to crack, as it is heavily ingrained into our culture. It can only be counteracted with a heavy dose of generational and bias awareness.
Now, if you’re on the job hunting side of the coin, you’re usually just trying to keep your head above water, by what we call “hustling.” What does it mean to hustle in the business world? The term has cropped up in the last handful of years, but it’s more than a suit jacket and lustrous high-end resume paper. Its certainly not just sitting at home waiting for an email to pop-up in your inbox or coyly submitting your resume to every table at a career fair, then shuffling away before you make eye contact. The difference is you’re going to events and you’re actually making an effort to connect. You’re talking to people and getting to know them. Scary, right?
I know some people are reading this right now and saying, that’s obvious! Yet for a burgeoning generation, (yes, I’m referring to that ‘m’ word - millennials), this is the hardest part. Generations are conditioned very differently from each other on what it means to communicate and network. This makes it harder to get the job, but also harder to interview for the right candidate. Knowing this now, it's important to start analyzing and breaking down the types of environments that are conducive to unfair types of interview bias. It’s time to start focusing on the connections more. After all, we’re all people and we’re all in the same boat, right?
If you’re now wondering “where do I begin?,” below are some networking STEM events happening soon near the Emerson, Round Rock, TX Location.I will post more as they come up. Please feel free to post your own local events. We are only as strong as our community!
Lets try to establish a more natural way of communicating, connecting, and turning our places of work into more collaborative and less competitive environments.
Tomorrow, Saturday, July 29th - Women Who Brunch- Coffee, Careers, and Champagne at Galvanize Austin.
Tuesday, August 8th - Greater Austin STEM Networking Forum - August 2017
Wednesday, August 16th - ATX Diversity in Tech Meetup: Balanced Interview Panels to Avoid Interview Bias
Not in Austin? Here are some side meetup groups for Houstonians too!
ChickTech in Houston, https://www.meetup.com/ChickTech-Houston/
AWIS Houston, https://www.meetup.com/Association-for-Women-in-Science-Gulf-Coast-Houston/
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