Technology resumes: Value the difference between his vs hers

ResumeWe all know women hold just a fraction of technical jobs. While it’s understood the ‘brogrammer’ culture and unconscious bias are sources of the gender gap in technology, Kieran Snyder, CEO of Textio, went further to assess if CV style contributed. She did the research after looking over a female friend’s resume which was impressive – but still failed to make her want to hire her. After subjecting over 1000 CV’s, from technologists at various stages of their careers into text analysis, she found statistical difference between the genders.

As detailed in her commentary for Fortune  women led with their credentials and include more personal background, such as professional prizes, awards and academic distinctions, and they were more likely to detail their entire career – rather than just the last few jobs. Both men and women were equally likely to include information on ‘other interests’ – but again women’s extended to 3 versus one line favoured by men.

Women’s CV’s were also twice as long as men’s, averaging 717 words to his 414 words. Women were also more likely to include a summary and much less likely to use a specific, verb-heavy bullet list to summarise past roles. The problem is that men’s preferred writing style is obviously preferred by the men hiring people in such a male dominated industry. As explained in Quartz this approach fits better with Google hiring chief Laszlo Bock’s favourite piece of resume advice….to describe all wins by ‘accomplished X by doing Y as measured by Z’

Fortunately, Snyder didn’t use this as an opportunity to suggest women write more like men in order to get noticed, but called on employers to value the difference. She said ‘The men and women in this study have similar backgrounds. The resume gap reflects differences in how they present themselves, not in their experience or credentials. The women tend to tell their stories in summary, while the men let the facts speak for themselves. Both resume styles reflect skill sets that teams need. If you want to ship products, you need people who focus on the precise execution of concrete goals. But if you want to ship products that people will buy, you also need people who turn a varied set of features into a cohesive user narrative. Here’s the problem, though: The tech industry, which is not coincidentally heavily male-dominated, is far more equipped to appreciate precise execution. This is not because it is the only valuable skill set, but because it is easier to quantify and more well-understood.’

Unintended gendered consequences: When family-friendly policies backfire on women

family friendlyNot surprisingly, we advocate flexibility and family friendly policies with our corporate clients. However, a series of new research shows  promoting such ‘benefits’ as being aimed primarily as women, can actually undermine their advancement as it gives employers an excuse to discriminate against them as potentially problematic employees. They see women as ‘not worth the risk’ of leaving or potentially needing costly support. As detailed in the New York Times by Claire Cain Miller,

For example, in the US, after the introduction of the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993, still one of the least generous programmes in the developed world, women were 5% more likely to remain employed but 8% less likely to be promoted than they had been before the introduction of the law. Similarly, Chile introduced a child-care law which required employers with more than 20 women to provide and pay for local childcare to mothers with kids under the age of 2 years. While the smallest employers often didn’t comply, many of the rest compensated for the perceived loss by offering women starting salaries that were 9% to 20% less than they had before the law.

Spain introduced a new law in 1999 giving workers with children younger than 7 the right to ask for reduced hours. It was predominantly women who requested reduced hours and in the subsequent decade companies were 6% less likely to hire women of child-bearing age compared to men, 37% less likely to promote them and 45% more likely to dismiss them. The probability of unemployment amongst women of child-bearing age also increased by 20% during that time. As explained in the New York Times: ‘ These findings are consistent with previous research by Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn, economists at Cornell. In a study of 22 countries, they found that generous family-friendly policies, like long maternity leaves and part-time work protections in Europe, made it possible for more women to work — but that they were more likely to be in dead-end jobs and less likely to be managers.’  The answer is not in reducing the benefits afforded women but in making sure such ‘benefits’  flexibility is gender neutral.

 

Ban salary negotiations for equal pay

Ellen_Pao_2015After unsuccessfully suing her Venture Capital firm employer for sexual discrimination, Ellen Pao – darling of the Silicon Valley feminists, has now resigned as interim chief executive of Reddit. Pao, who had been at the company only eight months, put every effort into ridding Reddit of harassment. Pao made it one of her first moves to ban salary negotiations at the social media company. Burned by her own experiences, she seeks to eliminate gender bias. Many question the utility of this option, saying women should be able to negotiate their salaries as well as any man. In an ideal world, this would be true. However, research routinely shows even if we teach women to ‘negotiate like a man’, it’s not a great idea as we then penalise them for it, by describing them as ‘unseemly, selfish or shrewish’ when then do. In fact, other research from 2012 showed American men were more likely to give a better deal to women who flirted and flattered than women who adopted a gender neutral ‘let’s get down to business’ approach.

A follow-up study by business professor Laura Kray, found that type of ‘feminine charm’ worked because it put me in a more positive mood. Negotiating salary and other benefits makes the assumption that top talent want that type of approach. Kray however, found that undergraduate business students, particularly the women were turned off by the idea of working for companies that sacrificed fairness for profit. So a ’no negotiation’ policy may work best, particularly if you want to attract people who have historically been disadvantaged by salary negotiations; women and ethnic minorities.

As Kray wrote in the Washington Post: ‘A no-negotiation policy implies that an employer pays based on a job’s market value, rather than based on a job’s actual market value, rather than based on subjective individual characteristics. Laszlo Bock, chief of people operations at Google, recently extolled the virtues of this principle for eliminating the pay gap. Even making offers based on an individual’s salary history can perpetuate the problem, he noted. ‘We figure out what the job is worth, not the person,’ he said during a talk in Washington.’ Pao’s solution may be unconventional and will almost certainly continue to ruffle feathers, but we like that’s it’s an attempt to solve a real-world, rather than ideal world problem.

Why assumptions that women ‘Fall in Love’ at work hinders senior male sponsorship

WomenNobel Laureate Tim Hunt has quite rightly come in for criticism for his comments about his ‘problem with girls in the lab’. But it does unearth a vain assumption about the helplessness of women falling under the spell of their male colleagues. But the bigger problem is that these kinds of assumptions, held by many senior men and women as well, hold women back from networking closely with men or benefiting from their sponsorship. While Hunt is in the firing line, these assumptions are not limited to science. As the Centre for Talent Innovation found in their research on mentoring and sponsorship, a majority of senior men are concerned about obviously helping junior women for fear of it being misconstrued.

For example, the Washington Post recently detailed how common this is in US government. Female and male congressional staffers on the Hill were surveyed by the National Journal about access to their bosses. They found clear evidence, from both male and female staffers, that women were being being barred from spending time one on one, having closed door meetings or even in some cases travelling with their male bosses. Ostensibly, for some male bosses this is to ‘protect’ both parties from any ‘misunderstandings’ and suspicious onlookers. However, as Catherine Rampell wrote in the piece: ‘These rules- which inherently sexualise what should be mundane work interactions – seemed predicated on the premise that either all women are devilish temptresses irresistible to their libidinous bosses or that all women are liars who will fabricate sexual harassment charges at the slightest provocation.’

As in the case of every man and woman who eschews workplace interaction with the opposite sex, it disproportionately limits the careers of women who are more likely to need senior male support to progress. Sensitive and strategic decisions are the most likely kind to be made behind closed doors – an impossibility for a woman to influence if she has to be chaperoned or is excluded. As Rampell explained: ‘No wonder female staffers earn, on average, $6000 less than their male counterparts , a disparity driven by the fact women are underrepresented in senior positions ….which will continue as long as predominantly male bosses insist on never becoming true mentors, confidants and sponsors to women’. The best advice: Create a culture where interactions between men and women are encouraged and discussed as normal. And if that doesn’t work, as Rampell suggests, remind men: “There’s no better way of cultivating suspicions of lechery than announcing to the world you can’t be left alone with a lady’. Certainly, this was the same comment raised by senior people we know after Hunt announced the frequency with which ‘women fall in love with him or he falls in love with them’.

‘Queen Bee’ myth quashed

Mean bossOne of the most commonly asked questions I receive is ‘why are female bosses mean to junior women?’ They’re not – in fact, they are no ‘meaner’ than male bosses. It’s more likely we have higher expectations of ‘nurturing’ behaviour in women than we do of male bosses. In fact, the latest research bears out that women actually do better when they work for companies with a female CEO.

Columbia University looked at top 1500 management teams over a 20 year period and found that when female CEOs were appointed to an organisation, other women were more, rather than less likely to attain other senior positions. Additionally, female CEO’s pay higher wages to all employees, and reduce the gender wage gap to just 1.5%. However, there’s a ‘sting in the tail’ of the Queen Bee. When a woman was appointed to a top job, but not the CEO position, the chances of other women following her into the upper echelon were 50% less.

So what’s going on? After looking at the evidence, the authors concluded women at this second type of organisation are part of an ‘implicit quota’. In The Times, Sian Griffiths explained how the authors felt: ‘While firms gain legitimacy from having women in top management, the value of this legitimacy decreases with each additional woman, whereas the perceived costs, from the perspective of the male majority in top management, increases with each woman.’ In fact, it’s perceived that majority group resistance increases when women (and one could argue any other perceived minority group) grows to even just 20%. In fact, women in senior jobs may indeed themselves be subconsciously accepting this ‘implicit quota’ and therefore any other women who come to the table are a potential threat – which may be where any resistance to other junior women comes from. So, it seems the only person who thinks it’s not enough to have a few tokens at the table are the female CEO’s – the same people we’ve historically maligned as unhelpful Queen Bee’s.

Equitable pay: Women & the curse of low expectations

Equal payUnfortunately it appears pay equity is still a distant dream. European PWN-Paris found in their survey ’Women & Money’  that 75% of professional women are not satisfied with their remuneration, but remain passive on the issue. This means they accept being paid less than they are worth.

Despite 2/3 preparing for year end appraisals (65%), women expected pay rises to coincide with a boss noticing their efforts (44%) and 2/3 didn’t ask for pay raises at all (66%). This is no junior sample either, the average respondent had several degrees, 20 years at a large company in a business function, lived with a partner and had 2 children. Such reticence to discuss money and ask for their worth cripples families as one half (52%) said they out earn their partners. This is in spite of their reported comfort in managing their own finances and asking for equitable pay for others. The majority also perceived that it is easier for men than for women to ask for a pay raise (60%). Women may value friendship but 69% admitted they don’t speak about their salary with friends.

At Female Breadwinners, we encourage companies to standardise pay and conduct internal audits for more equality. Equally women must wake up to the power they have and ask for they want because: ‘No one will ever care about your career more than you do’.

We love this video illustrating what the pay gap means for women.

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