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FCW : January 2015
Despite the fact that some of the fastest-growing jobs in the Ameri- can economy are in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) segment, only 31 percent of the 1.7 million middle- and senior- level employees in the U.S. software sector are women. Unfortunately, the stats for women in federal technology are similar, with women making up about 30 percent of the federal IT workforce and being less represent- ed in senior executive roles. STEM jobs, however, are expect- ed to grow more than 30 percent in the next decade — three times as fast as non-STEM roles. That cre- ates an opportunity for agencies to make major strides in hiring more women into IT roles. CEB research shows that there are several benefits to recruit- ing and retaining a gender-diverse workforce. In such an environment, for example; individuals’ willingness to “go above and beyond” increases by 12 percent and the number of people reporting their intent to stay at the organization increases by an average of 20 percent. To enhance the percentage of women employees, particularly in STEM-related staff and leadership roles, federal managers should con- sider several actions: • Build diverse talent pipe- lines. Many organizations go to big recruiting events and post vacan- cies on USAJobs, Monster and the like to attract talent. That approach results in a high volume of candi- dates but not necessarily candidates of high quality. The best organiza- tions build pipelines of qualified women candidates by tailoring mes- sages to that group and using cur- rent employees to identify qualified women through their networks, and then encouraging them to apply. • Use hard data to avoid implicit bias. The use of metrics and assess- ments to evaluate candidates can ensure that decisions are not based on bias or “gut feeling.” Educating hiring managers about implicit bias, which is an unconscious preference for a group of people, helps support the organization’s priorities. People must understand that implicit bias affects most of their everyday decisions, even among those who consider themselves advocates for women. • Conduct blind application reviews. A 2012 Yale study shows that résumés with a woman’s name are often deemed less qualified than the same résumé with a man’s name. Blind application reviews eliminate any such bias. Better yet, agencies should supplement résumé reviews and manager interviews with objective assessment tools that predict performance and help over- come innate gender biases. • Discuss career paths with women employees. Hewlett- Packard reviewed its personnel records and found that women applied for promotions only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications for the job. By contrast, men applied when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements. That gap highlights the importance of having conversations with rising women executives to clarify their qualifica- tions and encourage them to com- pete for leadership positions. • Understand what motivates women. Our research shows that different motivators drive women and men to rise through the ranks. Men in leadership positions are motivated by fear of failing, making mistakes, and suffering the associ- ated loss of self-esteem and power. They thrive on opportunities to take responsibility, exercise authority and influence others. Women are motivated by a constructive work environment, positive working conditions, and acknowledgment of their contributions and achieve- ments. Understanding what drives women and adapting that insight to the agency’s culture are essential to attracting and retaining women. n Closing the gender gap in federal IT Here are several actions federal managers can take to create a more gender-diverse — and successful — workforce Agencies should supplement résumé reviews and manager interviews with objective assessment tools that predict performance. Commentary | JEAN MARTIN AND KRIS VAN RIPER JEAN MARTIN is a talent solutions architect and KRIS VAN RIPER is a managing director at CEB. 10 January 2015 FCW.COM 0115fcw_010.indd 10 1/6/15 1:49 PM
November and December 2014