SEEK reports more gender diversity in recruitment since removing coding from selection criteria

In just five years SEEK's successful female applicants has jumped from zero to 83%. Image: Shutterstock

Online job search platform SEEK has increased the number of women in its graduate program for technology recruitment by removing coding from its selection criteria.

In just five years the number of successful female applicants has jumped from zero to 83 per cent after a company-wide move to make coding skills just part of the assessment process for the SEEK graduate program, rather than a requirement in order to progress to the next interview stage.

“We found that some of our pre-selector tools were biasing towards men,” SEEK’s HR Director Kathleen McCudden told the Australian Financial Review this week.  “We had a technical coding accuracy tool but we had a lot more men scoring highly on that.”

RELATED: Code careers you never expected

Since switching up the SEEK graduate program recruitment testing process and removing mandatory coding skills from their grad recruitment ads, SEEK has found that the diversity of its candidates has improved considerably, with women performing particularly strong in key areas like problem solving and team building.

A good move for women in tech?

As we launch our Careers with STEM: Code issue, we think it’s awesome that SEEK’s shake up has allowed more girl grads to enter the tech world  (83 per cent is huge!) yet we can’t help but wonder why we’re not equipping girl grads with the same confidence in coding as their male peers.

We hit up software engineer, academic and inspiring woman in tech Dr Muneera Bano for her thoughts on SEEK’s decision to ditch the terminology. Here’s her perspective:

“I remember, more than a decade ago l, when I had just started my academic career in computer science, and I was attending a seminar with my female-only students where the speaker (from one of the giant tech companies) announced to the whole room that when it comes to hiring based on gender in tech, women are preferred for analytical roles and men are preferred for technical roles. His reasoning was that women are better at finding faults, and connecting dots. Whereas men are better at logic and coding.

“By removing the word ‘coding’ from job advertisements we might be surrendering to this stereotypical binary division that has developed only towards the end of twentieth century.

Dr Muneera Bano
During her research career, Dr Muneera Bano has received prestigious recognition for her work, including being named as a finalist for Google Australia’s Anita Borg Award for Women in Computer Science.

“There are great female programmers who pioneered the field of computer coding as we know of it today. The first recognised computer programmer was a woman Ada Lovelace. Grace Hopper was the pioneer to design a compiler for computer coding. Adele Goldberg was one of the seven programmers that developed Smalltalk, one of the first object-oriented programming languages, the base of the current graphic user interface. In 1944 there were six female programmers for ENIAC computers. The list goes on.

“Instead of accepting that women are averted by the word ‘coding’ we need to find the real root cause of the lack of women in tech jobs which is more about the social stereotyping, organisational cultures and working conditions within the tech companies that hinders growth opportunities for women.

– Dr Muneera Bano

If you’re just as passionate about diversity in computer science, check out Careers with STEM: Code here.    

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.


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