Provide feedback on how well girls are doing in STEM compared to other subjects
This can help update our potentially biased beliefs and allow us to reassess our performance. Furthermore, feedback can encourage the right people to participate in competitions – those most capable instead of those most overconfident. Frequent feedback has been shown to encourage women to compete.
Eliminate clues that trigger performance-limiting stereotypes
For example, move the tick boxes where candidates are asked to select their gender and ethnicity from the beginning to the end of a test.
Involve female STEM teachers and others in counter-stereotypical roles
An initiative in which female maths teachers or engineers - as well as male nurses and male primary school teachers - speak to school children can be powerful in the formative years for both boys and girls. In introductory STEM courses, female students were more likely to continue their studies in a STEM subject when assigned a female professor instead of a male professor. The faculty’s gender had no effect on the choices made by male students.
Don't forget the details
The attitude of students can also be affected by subtle and simple changes such as diversifying the portraits on the walls of your organisations.
Purge gendered language from job ads and other company communications
This is especially important as women consider more factors than men when screening jobs - in particular, cultural fit, values and managerial style. Research suggests that establishing a sense of belonging is a major concern for female job seekers.
Remember that the importance of relatability extends across various platforms of recruitment activities
First impressions also matter in recruitment sessions. In a study of staff recruitment sessions at a US university, only 22% featured female engineers talking about technical work. In the few sessions that featured women speaking on technical subjects in which they connected these issues to instances of real-world impact, female students were much more engaged, asking questions 65% of the time, compared with only 36% in sessions with no women speakers.
Do away with self-assessments wherever possible
Or at least avoid sharing self-assessments with evaluators ahead of performance reviews. Many firms ask their employees to evaluate themselves and then share these self-evaluations with their supervisors. Self-assessments entrench gender biases through anchoring, where women will generally underrate their performance, which serves as an unconscious, low, reference point for evaluators.
Invite team members to speak up
Legitimise negotiations about promotion and salary raises by enabling people to negotiate on behalf of others.
Include a critical mass of women in teams to avoid tokenism
When building teams, consider how to add complements and not substitutes. A diversity of viewpoints can trump average excellence when it comes to collective problem-solving. Both ability and diversity are required to maximise collective intelligence.
Change norms through smarter messaging
Celebrate successes in increasing gender diversity. Instead of describing the small fraction of female representation, focus messaging on the large fraction of companies with gender diverse leadership. People are more likely to adopt a new behaviour if they know that many others are already doing it.