Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fighting Gender Bias ~ Why We Need Anonymous Resumes

Unlike my usual articles, I am going to go on a bit of a rant here.

While I have written before on women in business issues; “Women in Business ~ My Case for Why We Need to Help Ourselves” and “The Ability to Choose ~ A Legacy We Leave to Our Daughters” .... This time it is Different.

I recently came across an article on, “Case Closed:  Women Do Make Teams Smarter”, about women in tech, specifically high-tech firms.  

In this article, the author, Geoffrey James, delves into the subject of women in high-tech companies.  James calls these high-tech jobs a male dominated field with, at times, an openly hostile treatment of women applicants and employees.

While this was not much of surprise, it is the following quote from the article that really widened my eyes;

“It turns out that gender bias starts in the selection of candidates to be interviewed. 
Several studies have shown that 
a resume bearing a man's name 
results in more job interviews 
than the identical resume 
bearing a woman's name.”

When I read this paragraph, I was incredulous. I was amazed that simply seeing a woman’s name on a resume can result in them being overlooked and ignored for the job ~ even when they are equally, or even more, qualified than a male candidate!


Women are good at their jobs.  They come to the table with all the education, skills, and abilities to excel.  And employers in all sectors would do well to realize this.  

According to a report by Rochelle Sharpe in Bloomberg Business Week, “As Leaders, Women Rule”,  “female managers' strengths have long been undervalued, and their contributions in the workplace have gone largely unnoticed and unrewarded. Companies are now saying they want the skills women typically bring to the job, but such rhetoric doesn't always translate into reality”.

Employers, managers, and supervisors often pass over women for promotions due to their bias about their abilities.  The belief that their traditional “female” traits makes them less qualified clouds their judgment.   

We all would like to believe we are beyond this, but clearly that is not the case.

Bottom line, we need to start at the beginning.  
We need to fight bias during the hiring process.

This is where I found Geoffrey James’ article most fascinating.  In it he proposes an interesting solution ~ removing names from all resumes!

James advocates stripping “candidates' names off their resumes before you select which candidates to interview”.  He even goes as far as suggesting that the selection process be followed by remote interviews; “with the candidate represented as a neutral-gender avatar mirroring the candidate's facial expressions. Morph the candidate's voice so that it's gender neutral”.

James believes that this will result in a more even playing field. While he is specifically addressing the world of high-tech, I think this could cross over to any field.  

This idea may only get us in the door, 
but it is a start.  
As the climate changes 
and more and more women 
are given the chance, 
we can all accomplish great things...
one step at a time.

As B.R. Ambedkar, an Indian jurist and social reformer, states;

Now about this “equal pay for equal work” issue......

Authored by  

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