Job ads should avoid terms like 'Coding ninja' to secure diverse applicants

Tom Allen
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Young white men are seen as the world's technical workforce - how can you attract different candidates?

Diversity and inclusion are important topics in every industry today, but they are not about attacking men, or changing everything - or everyone - at a company. Instead, business leaders should focus on both retaining the talent they have, and making sure the environment is welcoming.

Anisah Britton is the CEO and founder of 23 Code Street, a coding school for women, which sends part of its profits to India to help improve the technical skills of the women in Mumbai's slums. She told Computing that diversity "is not about calling individuals out about being sexist; it's about saying, ‘If you want the smartest workforce, if you want the best people in your room, why don't you make the room for them?'"

The technology industry is largely dominated by white men, and female and BAME representation is poor - under 20 per cent, according to some surveys. This "has spread from the idea that young white men are our technical workforce."

"We have this entire system that's built around men going to work. This dates from the 1920s, when the industry kicked off. Most industries are based on old structures of working that worked for men. It isn't about calling men out, it's about making the industry realise that this isn't working for everyone."

The best way to change that, Britton added, is by making the workplace more welcoming: flexible hours, accessible offices and equal paternity and maternity cover can go a long way towards addressing these issues.

Even the language used in job adverts can be problematic, and lower the number of women who are willing to apply. "A lot of the time it's something really silly, like the job spec says ‘Coding ninja'. I wouldn't apply for a job that says coding ninja, that doesn't really relate to who I am," said Britton.

Britton will present a session called Code Today, Shape Tomorrow at our Women in Tech Festival UK later this year. A collaboration between Computing and CRN, the Festival will celebrate successful women across the IT industry, sharing personal experiences of their journeys and the challenges along the way. This one-day event will provide insight from how to create a professional you, to building and maintaining a successful team, and not to forget case studies involving cutting-edge technology.

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