Google Is Basically Googling a Better Way to Hire and Retain Women

Illustration for article titled Google Is Basically Googling a Better Way to Hire and Retain Women

Google's known it has a problem recruiting and retaining women for a while, but it didn't know why. So, in an approach that the New York Times adorably calls "very Google-y," the company is using an algorithm to try and figure out why they're losing women and how they can treat the female one-third of their 34,300 employees better. Here's what they found so far:

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.

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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.

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also:

Another time Google was losing women was after they had babies. The attrition rate for postpartum women was twice that for other employees. In response, Google lengthened maternity leave to five months from three and changed it from partial pay to full pay. Attrition decreased by 50 percent.

Google is hardly the only company with women problems — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of women working in professional computing jobs dropped 8 percent between 2000 and 2011 while the number of men climbed 16 percent. Hopefully their algorithmic findings will help lead the way for others, because gender equality is not only the right thing to do — it's good for business, too. "Having women leaders is not just a question of equity or somehow ticking the box," Sylvia Ann Hewlett, president of Columbia University's Center for Talent Innovation, told the Times. "Particularly at technology companies, it really does contribute to innovation and a company's ability to exploit new markets."

In Google's Inner Circle, a Falling Number of Women [NYT]

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DISCUSSION

A huge, profitable company like Google only had three months mat leave? I really don't understand how you US-based moms manage to have children. The thing I always wonder about the lack of mat leave in US is - where do the babies go when the moms go back to work like a week after giving birth? Do you have daycares that actually care for newborns? I've never heard of a baby under 6 months going to daycare. Are there special daycares that cater to the needs of teeny- tiny babies like that, or are they at the same daycares as screaming toddlers? And how is a rabid pro-breastfeeding movement able to co-exist with a lack of mandatory maternity leave? Having never lived in the US all of these things totally confuse me.