What will it take to get more women into tech careers?

Women earn about half of science and engineering degrees, but they make up less than 20 percent of people employed in those fields.

“I work a lot with women who talk about how stressful and challenging the experience of being the only woman in a work setting is,” says Gayatri Shenai, a partner in McKinsey Digital and founder of our annual Women in Technology and Operations conference.

“You can’t be what you can’t see,” she adds. “So, let’s show the world who some of these women in the space areand what’s possible.”

That was the inspiration behind a new McKinsey video series Gayatri helped create. It features prominent women in STEM from our firm and elsewhere sharing their journeys and challenges, reflecting on the mentorship and sponsorship they’ve received, and offering advice to future generations.

This International Women’s Day, we’re sharing an early look at the series through an episode featuring a conversation between McKinsey partner Louise Herring and Entrepreneur First founder Alice Bentinck. (For more of Alice’s views on the importance of talent, see “The people-first approach to business-building.”)

We hope you enjoy their conversation. To catch new episodes of the series as they become available, please follow us on social media.

Make gender diversity core to hiring

The tech world is notoriously male-dominated. For instance, according to our research, the percentage of computing roles women hold has largely declined in the U.S. over the past 25 years. Those numbers are even worse for women of color. In this clip, Alice talks about how the start-ups making progress on gender diversity are the ones devoting extra resources into sourcing diverse candidates from day one.

Consider more than cultural fit

Placing too much emphasis on hiring only people who match your organizations culture can limit the diversity of talent who join your company—and ultimately the diversity of its ideas. To combat this, Alice encourages companies to go back and think about what their values are today, and what aspects of them will endure well into the future. Using that as a guide in hiring, rather than cultural fit alone, can ensure greater inclusivity.

Encourage entrepreneurship

According to our research, all-male founding teams received 85 percent of total venture capital investment in the U.S. in 2018, while all-women teams received just two percent. (Gender-neutral teams received 13 percent.) Its not surprising then that women tend to perceive entrepreneurship as riskier than their male peers. To combat this, Alice tries to help women see that the greater risk than trying to launch a new business and failing is perhaps not trying at all.

Expand the talent pipeline

Getting more women in STEM careers requires creating clearer pathways for women to enter into them, and nonprofits from Afghanistan to the United States are focused on developing girls’ coding skills. In addition to founding Entrepreneur First, Alice also founded Code First Girls: a nonprofit social enterprise that teaches women tech skills and helps companies develop more female friendly recruitment policies.

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