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Tech's Lag In Female Hiring Is Both A Pipeline and Promotional Problem

Tech's Lag In Female Hiring Is Both A Pipeline and Promotional Problem

This interview was originally published on on August 11, 2021.

We’ve all heard the stats — as few as 30 percent of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) career paths are occupied by women. But according to BillGO Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Kelly Seidl, in some instances, the numbers may even fall far short of 30 percent – especially when it comes to software development.

“We get a lot of female representation in other disciplines, more so than we do in computer science,” she said. “I think historically as an industry, we’ve said it’s a pipeline problem, but we need more education and more role models, more access to training.”

Part of the problem, Seidl believes, is that most industries fail to position computer science in a way that appeals to women contemplating careers, since so much of the creativity, problem-solving and other interesting aspects of the work are often obscured. A lot of cool stuff happens when engineers are sitting behind their computers, she said, and placing a greater focus on that “stuff” would help attract women to the field.

More importantly, she said, organizations need to see diversity as more than a chore to be taken on or a box to be checked. As Seidl said, study after study demonstrates that diversity isn’t just good for its own sake, but that it also drives stronger performance and leads to more relevant products because a more diverse talent pool helped with product construction.

“So many figures show that having gender diversity and ethnic diversity show up on the bottom line,” she said. “These companies are more successful. It’s not just us trying to be diverse. It’s really about performance as well as diversity, which is fantastic.”


Support Beyond The Front Door

The pipeline for women in STEM and teaching gets a lot of attention, Seidl noted, and rightfully so — as there is a problem there, but fixing the problem requires thinking bigger and deeper about the culture female employees are walking into.

As those employees walk in the door, support needs to come from all parts of the organization, not just other women, Seidl said. The reality is that anyone can support women in tech — it doesn’t need to be the specific task of a single welcoming committee or brigade of female mentors — it can and should come from anywhere and everywhere.

“Personally, what has gotten me to where I am is the support of women who have helped me along the way,” she said. “There have been men who have helped me along the way, and it’s been wonderful. Some of the biggest supporters in my career as a successful woman in tech have been the men who have helped champion me along the way. And I’m truly thankful for that.”

Female candidates don’t just need to be ushered in, they need to be cultivated as talent from the minute they walk in the door, she said. A lack of women applying for jobs in the C-Suite or in leadership positions doesn’t imply a lack of interest, she noted. Talent not cultivated “out of the gate” essentially goes to waste, both for the person wielding it and the organization that fails to tap into their potential.


Getting In Touch With The Consumers

As Seidl said, BillGO is committed to giving consumers and business owners the tools they need to better pay and manage their bills. This means empowering them to pay how they want to pay — debit, credit card, mobile wallet, etc. — while also ensuring that they can be confident their money will get to the billers on time.

The firm’s customer base, like that of many digital firms, is slightly more female than male, with 37 percent of active users being women and 34 percent being male. If a company cannot connect with most of its customer base, it has a problem, said Seidl. FinTechs should be developing products for female users — and to do that effectively, they should aggressively seek female input.

“We need to be cognizant of women in FinTech,” she said. “If we’re not, we’re largely ostracizing a large portion of our target demographic.”


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