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Google’s Using “Very Google-y” Tactics In Efforts to Hire (and Retain) More Women
by Alanna Bennett | 11:50 am, August 24th, 2012
For even the most casual of internet-dwellers, Google is the king of the internet. Or, perhaps more accurately, the sherpa that helps us navigate its treacherous waters. It gives us directions, answers our crucial questions (“is my cat gay?”), and points us towards the how-tos we most desperately need. So what does the behemoth company do when it most needs its own how-to? Well, it pretty much googles it. And this time it’s in need of advice on how to incorporate more women into the company.
In the past, Google’s actually done pretty well when it came to seeing the value of the women in their employ thrive; but there’s always room for improvement, and the company saw that as an opportunity to do better when it comes to the always-looming issue of getting more women hired in Silicon Valley.
And fine, it’s a little more complicated than just punching “How can we hire more women” into the internet and letting their own search engine do the work. But it’s kind of like that. Google is making use of its world-famous algorithm to help solve their problem.
Some of it’s been pinpointed to the hiring process:
Executives had been concerned that too many women dropped out in the interviewing process or were not promoted at the same rate as men, so they created algorithms to pinpoint exactly when the company lost women and to figure out how to keep them. Simple steps like making sure prospective hires meet other women during their interviews and extending maternity leaves seem to be producing results — at least among the rank and file.
But what was it about interviews that lost so many women?
Google’s spreadsheets, for example, showed that some women who applied for jobs did not make it past the phone interview. The reason was that the women did not flaunt their achievements, so interviewers judged them unaccomplished.
Once hired, though, things didn’t get much more simple. Advancing within the company is also an issue:
Still, senior women at the company are losing ground. Since Larry Page became chief executive and reorganized Google last year, women have been pushed out of his inner circle and passed over for promotions. They include Marissa Mayer, who left last month to run Yahoo after being sidelined at Google.
“There was a point at Google when the cadre of women leadership was pretty strong,” said a former Google executive who would speak only anonymously to preserve business relationships. “That has changed.”
Once hired, technical women were not being promoted at the same rate as men. At Google, employees nominate themselves for promotions, but the data revealed that women were less likely to do so. So senior women at Google now host workshops to encourage women to nominate themselves, and they are promoted proportionally to men, Mr. Bock said.
And while it’s discouraging every time we see so much evidence that these (sometimes pretty deeply seeded) things are keeping women in tech from getting hired, it’s encouraging to see that a company with as much influence as Google is taking steps to combat them and make changes in itself before it’s the public beating down their door and demanding it.
As it is, it seems the company genuinely values having women in its employ, and it’s nice to see such a behemoth taking these steps so publicly.
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