Women Wanted: How One Ecommerce Company Boosted Its Female Engineers

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February 14, 2013 ‐ By Ann Brown
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Although it is changing, tech careers have been slow to attract women. One way to convince more women to consider these fields is to gear jobs towards them. One company that seems to be working on this is ecommerce website Etsy.

CTO Kellan Elliott-McCrea helped create a two-year-long initiative at the company that focused on gender diversity. Etsy, where women account for 80 percent of its customers, now has 20 female engineers on a 110-person team, which accounted for a growth of more than 500 percent.

 “At a company so female-focused in its consumer-facing product he describes disappointment at the state of the Etsy office. Low-paid admin girls on one side, well-paid tech guys on another. The engineering staff was a blight at just 4% women,” reports Forbes. So Esty decided to take steps to change this.

“We’d interviewed people, sent out offers and beat the pavement to find female engineers,” Elliott-McCrea told Forbes. But still, the firm could not increase the number of women in its engineering department. Esty needed to convince the qualified female engineers out there to switch their jobs—which proved difficult.

So they helped get new entries into the fields. Etsy offered $5,000 grants to NYC-based education program Hacker School. The result: Female engineers at Etsy are nearly 20 percent of the team, four and a half times what they numbered at the start of the initiative.

The question of how to attract more women in the STEM fields is one that’s being debated far and wide across business. Incentives like this will be one piece of the solution. But, overall, companies will have to make these careers more inviting and accessible to women if these numbers are going to change.

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