They Wanted To Eliminate Gender Bias In Technical Hiring But Ended Up Losing All Their Female Candidates.

One of our most recent seed investments recently posed a question to me. They had designed a technical hiring process to try and eliminate gender bias but were losing all the women midway through their funnel when a take-home project was introduced. What was going wrong?

  • Growth v. fixed mindset language: Is this described as an assessment of ability or approach? It seems like it’s not being framed as a “test,” which is great, but there can be other language that makes this feel like you’re trying to get at someone’s ability as an engineer, which can lead candidates from underrepresented backgrounds to experience stereotype threat, and select out.
  • Vague vs. clear language: Are you specific about exactly what this will entail, and what you want to see from people?
  • Masculine/homogenous vs. inclusive language: I’m guessing you’ve already looked at this, but language that skews masculine (words or phrases like hard core, dominant, competitive, intense etc.) would be unhelpful 🙂
  • What the project actually is: I’m not an engineer, so I probably can’t be super helpful here, but I’d be curious about what you’re actually asking them to do in this project. Does it simulate what real work would look like? (It sounds like that’s the goal, which is great!) Does it bias towards a specific type of engineering style or approach? Is there anything else that might make the project itself less exciting to some people?
  • How long the project takes: People from underrepresented backgrounds in this industry are less likely to be able to invest a ton of time in a something, unpaid. How big a time commitment are you asking people to make?

You’ll find me @homebrew , Seed Stage Venture Fund w @satyap . Previously made products at YouTube, Google & SecondLife. Married to @cbarlerin .

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