Attracting (and retaining) top female tech talent

Women Hack Ottawa at Pythian | Notes From Another Land | Amy Maureen Lynch

The future of work

As some of you may know, I’ve been working on a pilot program for child-friendly professional development. After spending the past few months speaking with potential stakeholders and local women who are on parental leave and some who have temporarily and/or indefinitely opted out of the workforce to be the primary caregiver for their families, I have a better understanding of their desires to be part of something that is inclusive and inspiring.

So when the invitation to attend WomenHack‘s first networking event in Ottawa arrived in my inbox, I visited the website to learn more and decided to take the opportunity to meet local companies trying to foster a more diverse and inclusive approach to their hiring processes. I wanted to see who they were looking to attract and what kind of response the first event received.

The event took place the night before my newborn son’s three-month birthday so I used the opportunity to attend my first event solo and celebrate the end of the ‘fourth trimester‘. Special shoutout to my husband and the boys’ Grandma for allowing me to slip out of the house at a decent time.

I’m glad I didn’t bring the baby along to this one as it started after 7 p.m., and it is fairly difficult to hold a rapid-fire speed networking interview during the so-called witching hour*.

Networking events can be awkward – especially speed-dating style recruitment-focused ones where there is a larger number of job seekers in proportion to employers. Once the timer counts down and you’re meant to jump to the next table (or stand in the queue as many had to), it can result in a bit of a ‘deer-in-the-headlights-quick-what’s-my-elevator-pitch’ moment.

There were about 80 attendees and 18 host companies with a range of roles on offer. Many of the employers boasted autonomy, equality and family-focused perks including:

  • remote work
  • flexible work schedules
  • volunteer days
  • reimbursement for professional development and education
  • wellness programs
  • equal pay
  • women in leadership and mentoring programs
  • paid and unpaid maternity leave
  • reimbursement for fertility programs
  • adoption benefits
  • onsite childcare or subsidies for offsite daycare

I spoke with a few of the companies but as I’m not actively seeking a role and don’t have a Computer Science Degree 🤷‍♀️, I decided to give up on the speed round and free up some space. I took a more casual ‘float around the room and see what happens approach’ before heading home for the baby’s next feed.

That’s when I had a couple of great conversations with other ladies in the room and asked what they were looking for, sharing what I am working on: child-friendly, midday events focused on attendees who want to invest in themselves without sacrificing their family’s needs. Something to look forward to, feel welcomed at and inspired by.

Diverse? Tick.
Inclusive? Absolutely.

There should be another few WomenHack Ottawa events popping up over the coming months – if you’re interested in attending you can register for the list on their website.

Thanks to Pythian for hosting this month’s event!

*The last event I tried to take my newborn to was the Wesley Clover TechTuesday Panel on Diversity and Inclusion in the Tech Industry earlier this month. It started after 6 p.m. and the baby kicked off with some fussing around the time the panelists were introducing themselves, so I quickly stepped out.

Trying to attend industry networking events on diversity and inclusion after hours while parenting – oh, the irony! You can view a recap of the TechTuesday events on their YouTube Channel but if you want to network in tech in real life and are also a primary caregiver, good luck to you and I feel your pain!

Wesley Clover TechtTuesday

2 responses to “Attracting (and retaining) top female tech talent

  1. Pingback: On Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) | Notes From Another Land·

  2. Pingback: Feeling welcome once you’ve entered the building | Notes From Another Land·

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