When Experienced Women Engineers Look for New Jobs, They Prioritize Trust and Growth
Automattic, WordPress.com’s parent company, set out to learn how to boost applications from women and non-binary developers.
How can we increase gender representation in software engineering?
Our Developer Hiring Experience team analyzed this topic in a recent user-research study. The issue resonated with women engineers and a strong response enabled the team to gain deeper insight than is currently available from online research projects.
Seventy-one engineers who identified as women or non-binary responded to our request for feedback. Out of that pool, 24 answered a follow-up survey, and we carried out in-depth interviews with 14 people. This was a highly skilled group, with the majority having worked in software development for over 10 years.
While some findings aligned with our expectations, we still uncovered a few surprises.
The Job Hunt
In initial job hunts, respondents were found to rely heavily on their existing networks and on personal outreach from companies.
If they do not have a pre-existing connection with a company, they’ll likely scrutinize it for red flags before they submit an application. Job descriptions are searched for any discouraging language — for example, if parental leave descriptions only refer to mothers. Information — about the job, salary, team, and hiring process — is key for encouraging applications.
Stack Overflow is a popular resource for job hunting; whereas Glassdoor is viewed as less useful, and more as a venting forum for former employees or unsuccessful candidates.
The Hiring Process
The most favorable hiring processes represent a growth opportunity, rather than being purely evaluative. Communication and responsiveness are important, as is the visibility of other women within the team. For some participants, interviewing is seen as a skill to maintain. These developers are continually keeping an eye on job listings to stay abreast of their options. However, the chance for growth was the most widespread reason for actually leaving a current position.
Consistently being able to have an impact, including leadership opportunities, stood out as important; if this is lacking, experienced women engineers are likely to seek new employment. Dissatisfaction can also be caused by being pushed onto the management track and having to fight to continue to focus on technical work.
The data showed women are looking for more communities focused on connecting to other senior-level women, and around more technical topics. Concerns around online harassment can put women off trying to build their network online.
Changes at Automattic
We are working on Automattic’s employment branding to reflect our findings. We are in the process of gathering resources to better describe work at Automattic, and we’re encouraging existing developers to increase their visibility outside of the company — whether through writing or engaging in their communities.
In job postings, we have removed any gameplay or language that emphasizes hiring as a competitive process — for instance, we no longer mention application volume. Instead, job postings highlight learning and career opportunities for the candidate. Adding the term “Senior” to postings is also being tested. Although this implies a job ladder that does not necessarily exist here, the research clarified that its absence sent the message that all positions are mid-level roles, without the path to growth that women candidates tend to look for.
We are also managing candidates’ expectations by making the whole hiring process more transparent, and have created a public page outlining the hiring process.
We’ve made it easier for interested applicants to have casual chats with other women at Automattic. We also offer candidates the opportunity for one-on-one calls with a member of the Developer Experience team during the final stages of hiring; this has started with under-indexed candidates but with a view to rolling it out to everyone. These chats take place outside of the formal hiring process to provide an opportunity for the applicant to ask any questions they have and for the company to better understand their career goals and motivation.
The Second Edition of Our “Learn User Support” Workshop Is Open for Signups
Starting August 19, we’ll offer another virtual course for women interested in a technical-support career.
Back in January, we partnered with Support Driven and launched the first version of the Learn User Support Workshop, which helps women in the Asia-Pacific region develop the skills they need to succeed in a technical support role. We had 24 students enrolled in our first cohort.
Today, we’re happy to share that the next edition of the Learn User Support Workshop will launch on August 19, 2019. The course is entirely web-based — there’s no need to travel anywhere to attend — and completely free. So if you identify as a woman, are based in the Asia-Pacific region, and are serious about a career in user support, this might be a perfect match for you.
Building a better, bigger workshop
The strong positive feedback we received from our students earlier this year, as well as the increasingly long waitlist, inspired us to improve the course content and to design it to accommodate more learners.
What topics will we cover? As a participant, expect to learn how to…
Develop your own support philosophy.
Build successful troubleshooting strategies.
Manage challenging interactions.
Implement productivity tools.
Optimize your approach to applying and interviewing for jobs in support.
This six-module course will start on August 19 and will run through September 29. We will publish a new module every Monday, and each learner will have one week to complete it. We’ll include lots of hands-on work, and by the end of the course, each participant will also develop a résumé and portfolio site on WordPress that they can then share with potential employers.
Meet your friendly organizers
As for your teachers, the people who lead this workshop are Automattic Happiness Engineers — master communicators with deep, wide-ranging experience in distributed technical support.
Automattic, which offers the workshop, is a fully-distributed company — there are more than 930 full-time Automatticians spread across 70 countries and speaking 88 languages. We serve users from every corner of the world via products like WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WooCommerce, among others.
As people who believe in the benefits of distributed work, we love helping remote professionals level up their skills. Our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion leads us to look for ways to make the tech sector more representative of the wide and varied world it serves. As a result, this virtual workshop will equip Asia-Pacific-based women who are — or want to become — support professionals with skills that are specifically tailored to the demands of remote work.
Are you ready to sign up? Just click below:
We are currently accepting only women for this cohort.
Want to See a More Diverse WordPress Contributor Community? So Do We.
More diverse speakers at WordCamps means a more diverse community contributing to WordPress — and that results in better software for everyone.
The mission of WordPress is to democratize publishing: to make it possible for anyone — no matter their background, location, or identity — to bring their ideas to life on the internet. This mission inspires thousands of volunteers all over the world to contribute to the WordPress open source project, building and supporting the software that makes this possible.
But as in most technology organizations, the people who work on WordPress aren’t always representative of all the people who use WordPress. The majority of WordPress core developers, conference speakers, and other volunteers are young men. That’s where the WordPress Diverse Speaker Training Working Group comes in.
Breaking Down Barriers
A group of WordPress community organizers and volunteers, led by freelance developer Jill Binder, is working to change this. They’ve developed a workshop that trains women and other people from traditionally underrepresented groups in technology who’d like to present at conferences and WordCamps. These training events are organized by local WordPress meetup groups, and are always completely free of charge.
The workshops help attendees address some of the common barriers and fears underrepresented people have around public speaking: “I don’t know what I could speak about.” “I’m not an expert.” “I don’t know how to write a proposal.” “I don’t know how to create a presentation.” “I don’t have any experience speaking in front of groups.”
In 2018, the group supported and advised 55 WordPress communities in 26 different countries. New speakers were trained in 12 different WordPress meetup groups in the US, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, and Venezuela.
All of the communities that held this workshop experienced a real change in the speaker roster for their annual conferences; many of their WordCamps went from having 10% women speakers to having 50% or more women speakers in less than a year. In 2017, Seattle had 60% women speakers and in 2018, Vancouver had 63%.
Speaking at WordCamps is a consistent path to leadership in the WordPress community, so having more diverse speakers directly supports the goal of more diverse leadership in the WordPress open source project. WordCamps are where many WordPress enthusiasts choose to become professionals. When more people see speakers like them on stage and feel welcome in the community, a more diverse group of people participate in the WordPress project.
When WordPress events are more diverse, the WordPress project gets more diverse — which makes WordPress better for more people.
Help Us Grow This Work
Jill kicked off the Diverse Speaker Training Working Group at the beginning of 2018, and dedicated a year to it training facilitators and supporting organizers as an unpaid volunteer.
This year, Automattic has signed on as a 50% sponsor of Jill Binder’s diverse speaker outreach and training work. Her work is already making a noticeable impact on the WordPress project, and we want to make this training as accessible as possible to WordCamps globally. Like anything worth doing, this is a marathon and not a sprint — it’ll take time to see a more diverse contributor pool — but we’re dedicated to making sure this necessary groundwork happens.
Would you like to help foster diversity across the WordPress project? Automattic invites interested partners to pick up the other 50% of this project’s costs. Get in touch with Jill today!
Happy Pride Month! At Automattic, we strive to be a platform that democratizes publishing so that anyone can share their stories. This month is a great reminder for why we work hard to expand the open web.
Happy Pride Month! My favorite parts about celebrating this month are the stories shared from LGBTQ+ folks, their loved ones, and organizations looking to show support. At WordPress.com, we strive to be a platform that democratizes publishing so that anyone can share their stories regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or where they live in the world. This month is a great reminder for why we work hard to expand the open web.
For me, democratizing publishing means more than just my ability to publish my own story. It’s about being able to share, but also being able to receive. As I celebrate Pride Month as a young, queer person, I think back to early online communities on which I found other LGBTQ+ people and how much I resonated with their stories. I feel lucky to be able to share my own story, but there are many LGBTQ+ folks who can’t.
To this end, we wanted to provide resources, inspire, and highlight organizations to support as you celebrate Pride Month in your own way, whether that’s seeking out stories or writing your own.
The LGBTQ+ community is vast — I’m part of it, but I’m still learning new things daily. Whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or not, make sure you properly represent the community at large when you share your story with the help of these resources:
In partnership with Out in Tech, volunteers, including some of my awesome colleagues, have worked together over the last few years to create websites for LGBTQ+ organizations around the world. As you look to find organizations to support, remember to think globally, especially considering there are still 73 nations with laws against being LGBTQ+. We hope this list gives you a great place to start:
Happy WordPress-ing. Happy Pride.
For those of you sharing your own stories of being LGBTQ+ in this world, thank you for your bravery and vulnerability.
For those of you who can’t share your story, please know that it gets better and that you aren’t alone this month.
For those of you seeking out other people’s stories, thank you for being supportive, being open, and seeking to expand your perspective.
Join WordPress.com for an International Women’s Day Livestream Panel
On International Women’s Day this Friday, WordPress.com parent company Automattic is hosting four outstanding women tech leaders for a livestreamed conversation about professional advancement, technology, and mutual support as we strive for equity in the workplace.
It’s happening Friday, March 8 at 6 pm UTC / 1 pm ET / 10 am PT. Signups are limited to 500 people, so RSVP now to reserve a spot. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter at the hashtags #a8cIWD2019 and #IWD2019.
We’re proud to welcome panelists with a diverse range of expertise. Eli Budelli is WordPress.com’s lead of mobile development; Yelp software engineer Tanvi Patel is part of the review platform’s core web team and an outspoken advocate for equality in tech and health; Crystle Johnson, senior manager of diversity and inclusion at Pandora, is an expert in embedding inclusion in hiring and talent retention; she is also the founder of the Red Lip Collective, which empowers young women of color through mentorship and professional development. And Diana Chiu, senior manager of business development at DuckDuckGo, brings deep knowledge of partnerships and M&A cultivated over a decade working across tech, aviation, and biotech. The event will be moderated by Maria Scarpello, customer success advocate for Automattic.
The hour-long discussion will cover how to develop women leaders, create support systems for sustainable careers, and harness the power of self-awareness and self-validation.
As a distributed company with more than 800 employees in over 60 countries, Automattic sees inclusion and diversity as a constantly evolving idea. We know that diverse teams make better products, and we also know that there is always more work to do. We hope that attendees of this panel, across career stages, gender, and location, will leave with at least one new strategy for using their voice at work and uplifting the voices of others.