With unequal pay, workplace harassment, issues with family planning and discriminatory hiring and investment practices, it’s no secret that being a woman in the tech industry is tough. But it’s also not a secret that some companies are far better than others when it comes to treating women equally and giving them the respect, opportunities and pay they deserve.
To help women find these companies, one who is pioneering the fight for better lives for women in tech has launched a website that will serve as a hub for connecting women with each other as well as the best female-friendly jobs in tech. The site, called Hire Tech Ladies, went live in late July and is the brainchild of Allison Esposito, a content manager at Google and founder of Tech Ladies, a community of women in technology that started as meetups and a Facebook group and then became a newsletter and now website.
With years of experience in the tech industry at giants like Oyster and FourSquare as well as in private consulting for early-stage startups, Esposito has felt the problems of the male-dominated sector for years.
“I’ve been to many events where I was the only woman in a room full of dynamic and powerful men in tech,” she told the Observer. “In my early 20s I played drums and toured with a band with three other women, and we were often the only women musicians on the bill, so I’m not intimidated by being in a ‘boys club.’ I’m just bored by it. It bothers me when I would think about how many smart women are left out of events, big meetings and more.”
Last year, she found herself discovering a lot of women on Twitter who were working at cool tech companies or on their own innovative projects. She wanted to meet up with all of them for coffee to chat, but no one had time for so many individual meetings.
“I decided to put the word out to see how many ladies would want to meet one morning before work for coffee. When a ton of women showed up, we kept planning the meetups for once a month. People kept inviting their friends, and it quickly developed into a real group,” Esposito said.
A Facebook group to make connecting even easier followed a year later, and then she started a newsletter to share jobs from companies who wanted to hire women from the group. The new site is a way to “do more of everything” and better organize job listings from female-friendly companies. When choosing which companies make the cut, Esposito said if a member of the group who worked for the company can vouch for its culture, they’ll include it. Companies that offer above average maternity/paternity leave, remote work (which helps moms) or transparent salary formula, might find their job postings included as well. A few companies whose listings they’ve featured so far either in the newsletter or on the site are Warby Parker, Kickstarter, Harry’s, Basecamp and Buffer.
“And because women often aren’t afforded the same level of networking that men are, we make a point to include a name and direct contact information to someone at the company with every listing, so our members’ applications don’t sit at the bottom of a pile,” Espositio said.
One Tech Lady, a software engineer named Lauren Carter, said a friend recommended the Tech Ladies to her and that before finding the group, her job hunt had been “a swarm.”
“It was moving forward but nothing really struck me,” she said. “When I’m looking for jobs, I try to look in less traditional places, like Facebook groups, friends, or even contributing on Github. I may not necessarily search for a female-friendly company, but I always avoid companies that are reported for having abusive environments for women.”
Stephanie Bell from Handshake has hired several women from the group and said “it’s empowering to women at all different stages of their careers.”
“My team has grown from 13 to over 70 people, and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of cultivating this type of atmosphere in an organization,” she added.
In addition to improving the hiring and job hunt processes for women, Tech Ladies has offered what members say is an invaluable space to get trusted advice and just talk with people facing the same issues.
“Many women in our group have talked at meetups with each other about sexual harassment, being paid less than their male counterparts, not being able to get funding for their startups, and other challenges that you always hear are faced by women in tech,” Esposito said. “My goal is for Tech Ladies to continue to grow a network of women who support each other all over the world, so if you do have to leave a job because you were sexually harassed, or paid less, you have a built-in network of women who will help you find your next job.”