How to keep an eye on diversity when you’re hiring tech talent

In the past week, I’ve had more than a small handful of people send me articles reporting on a recent Github study that suggests that women write better code, (I have a long background focusing on initiatives around women in technology and entrepreneurship, hence the thoughtfulness).

There were some really interesting findings, all supporting the primary premise that code written by women has a higher approval rating than code written by men – but only if their gender is not identifiable <drop mic>:

  • The team found that 78.6% of pull requests made by women were accepted compared with 74.6% of those by men.
  • Women’s acceptance rates are 71.8% when they use gender neutral profiles, but drop to 62.5% when their gender is identifiable . There is a similar drop for men, but the effect is not as strong.

You can get more details here.

This comes after a palpable increase in discussion around the capabilities of female technologists and the benefits of having a diverse team, as opposed to just the need for equality and diversity (I covered the general topic a few years ago).

Ok, so we’ve got pretty strong research saying there are both conscious and unconscious biases that affect peoples’ hiring decisions (how employers hire Johns over Jennifers). Combine that with the growing evidence that women are just plain better for business (like how women in the C-suite add to net profit margins, and how they write better code). There’s plenty of other evidence that points to other areas of diversity, such as race.

The conclusion could possibly be drawn that it might do you well to consider the diversity of your team (don’t think too hard on this one, just do it).  So what can you do in your hiring process to decrease the chance that your workforce all looks and thinks the same?

  1. Review your hiring trends. What does diversity look like in your company? Are there gaps already showing? Did you not realize your entire tech team was male (or white, or whatever)? Make sure you know what you’re already doing and how your team already stacks up in this department.
  2. Think about wording. It’s true, even the way you word a job description can affect who you attract as an applicant. Do research (there are tools out there to help you with this, like Textio and….no excuses) and have multiple people look at your role descriptions before they go out.
  3. Determine hiring criteria beforehand. If your hiring team knows what they’re looking for before seeing resumes and before interviewing – skills, experience level, etc – they can use this checklist to line up applicant qualifications. This almost forces you to consider anyone qualified for those roles regardless of their demographic makeups.
  4. Hiring team diversity. Is the team hiring for an open position a good representation of what you want incoming to talent to be? Studies show that having even one woman on the hiring team will increase the chance a woman getting the position. It clearly matters who’s on the other side of the table just as much.
  5. Don’t stop with just one. It’s not over just because you filled that role with your “token” diverse candidate. Cindy Gallup, Founder and CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld/MakeLoveNotPorn says three is the magic number to start making a real impact.

With a little thought, you can get the well-rounded team you need to make the greatest impact on your bottomline.


Kate is CCO of untapt and Founder of FactorZero. A marketer by trade, she's had varied roles as President of Girls in Tech, Founder of Other Side Group, Executive Director of Digital and Social Media at Syracuse University, and has been in and around startups her entire career. She writes for a bunch of places including Forbes and Entrepreneur, and dabbles (a lot) in women in technology and entrepreneurship stuff, startup stuff, good craft beer, hard cider and hops farming, skiing, hiking and playing music.