While some companies have made inroads when it comes to increasing the number of women on their engineering teams, a large number of them – especially those with teams of over 100 people -- haven't. At some businesses, there’s still a feeling that it doesn’t really matter whether or not a team is diverse. Here’s some reasons those firms may want to reconsider.
- Women bring diversity, and diversity helps generate new ideas for solving problems.
- Especially with products geared toward women, female team members can improve development. For products that aren’t focused on women, see No. 1.
- Women engineers lead to more women engineers.
- Hiring more women will lead to more female CTOs, CIOs and CEOs.
- Hiring women can actually help attract male engineers.
Diversity of thought and approach are by far the greatest benefits of having women engineers on a team. Rather than working with a single, male-dominated mindset, a diverse team includes a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. That, in turn, can lead to identifying a larger set of problems and solutions. In part, differences in the ways that men and women think is related to the way their brains process information, Rebecca Shambaugh, CEO of consulting firm Shambaugh Leadership, told Dice News. "Research on the brain essentially shows that men tend to primarily use the left hemisphere of their brain, while women tend to use both the left and right hemispheres," Shambaugh says. "Since a man's brain functions are dominant on the left, he is more likely to rely on logic-based thinking and fact-based approaches and have a more detailed orientation. Women, who use both hemispheres, are more likely to have a broader perspective and big-picture orientation." When designing products and services aimed at women, it makes obvious sense to involve female engineers. That’s what online marketplace Etsy did. The company’s CTO, Kellan Elliott-McCrea, told the Atlantic that adding women engineers to its staff not only helped it recruit more women, but also improved its ability to hire male engineers. Finally, it's hard to develop top-level female technology executives if they never have a starting point. By employing more women engineers, companies greatly increase the number of female IT directors, vice presidents and ultimately CTOs. The bottom line, says Shambaugh: "Numerous research studies show that organizations with a greater number of women in senior executive positions are more profitable, have greater market share and are better able to compete and grow."