Breaking Barriers: Coding Tests Help Reduce Gender Bias in Hiring
by Codeaid Team
Women have made significant strides in the tech industry in recent years, and they continue to propel change and innovation in the sector.
From creating a long-lasting impact in the AI field (like Dr. Fei-Fei Li – the co-founder of AI4ALL) to revolutionizing nanotechnology in healthcare (like Dr. Jennifer Doudna, who co-invented the CRISPR gene-editing technology), women directly influence the future of this field.
But females still face unique challenges in pursuing careers in technology, such as gender bias in hiring and pay inequalities.
To reduce the negative impact of gender bias and promote diversity, tech recruiters need to shift their focus to the technical and problem-solving skills female software developers bring to the table.
One way to do that is through coding skills tests.
Let’s take a closer look at the challenges women face in the tech industry and why coding tests like Codeaid can promote more diversity in the field. We will also discuss some of the benefits of skill-based assessments for both candidates and employers.
Challenges for Women in the Tech Industry
According to a report by The World Bank, women make up less than a third of the world’s workforce in technology-related fields.
Women working in tech often encounter forms of discrimination, such as a lack of recognition for their contributions or assumptions that they are less skilled or less committed to their work. The situation is worsened by the fact that women actually rate themselves as less skilled and experienced in the field than their male colleagues.
This lower self-assessment trend also leads to a gender pay gap – another significant issue in the field. The pay gap trend also tends to increase the more senior and experienced the specialists are. Currently, we observe a pay gap of:
About 4% for software developers with less than 2 years of experience
27% for professionals with 3-5 years of experience
And a staggering 31% for hires with 6-10 years in the field
Gender Bias in Tech Hiring
The software development industry has one of the most significant gender bias trends.
The first touchpoint where gender discrimination starts is the recruiting process. Often technical recruiters rely on resumes to get a general overview of the candidates. Such resumes usually disclose the candidate’s socioeconomic, gender, and race background, which is inadvertently taken into account, resulting in unconscious gender bias.
Women in software development roles are often perceived as less competent or less qualified for coding positions, even if they have the same skills and qualifications as their male counterparts.
For example, a study by Github found that software coding changes made by women are approved more often than those made by men, but only when their gender is not identified.
Gender Bias: How to Bridge the Gap?
To combat gender bias in hiring, HR professionals can:
Re-evaluate the entire recruiting funnel: Revise every step of your current hiring process and identify areas of improvement. Ask yourself whether more women drop out of the process at a specific stage. And if yes, why? You can also set specific diversity hiring goals (for example, have 50% women on your engineering team).
Include women in the evaluation process: A diverse interviewing panel can provide a more objective and fair evaluation. Women engineer interviewers can make female candidates feel more welcome. They can also offer suggestions on improving the tech hiring process so it’s more gender inclusive.
Use the right technical questions: It’s important to re-assess your technical interview process and eliminate any questions that might be biased (like “How do you balance your family responsibilities with work?”). Instead, try to focus on unbiased questions that strictly target the candidate’s skillset and problem-solving approach.
Focus on evaluating the candidate’s technical skills: Last but not least – choose your assessment tools wisely. The best technical recruiters use different coding skills assessments that simulate real-world challenges. This helps them make an accurate evaluation of the candidate’s skills and knowledge.
Next, let’s cover what coding tests entail and how they can help you hire the best candidates.
What are Coding Skills Tests?
Coding skills tests are designed to test the programming skills and knowledge of potential candidates. These assessments range from basic programming concepts to complex algorithms. The tests are timed or have a duration limit and can measure a person’s ability to write, debug or optimize code.
There are three main types of coding tests:
Multiple choice tests: While these tests are short and easy to complete and assess, they do not provide an in-depth overview of the candidate’s skills and knowledge. Considering we have entered the era of ChatGPT and other AI tools that can write and debug code, the chances of candidates cheating on these tests are also quite high.
Online tests: These tests can usually be taken in less than 2 hours. The advantage is that the candidate completes the assessment in a controlled testing environment. However, such tests do not reflect the candidate’s full skillset and problem-solving skills.
Take-home tests: These assessments usually take longer – between 10 to 15 hours since they simulate real-life assignments. Take-home tests also target not only the test taker’s code-writing skills but also their understanding and problem-solving abilities. That’s why they provide the most accurate results.
Benefits of Coding Tests to Avoid Gender Bias
Coding skills tests can be beneficial in mitigating gender bias in several ways:
Objective evaluation: Coding skills tests provide an objective way to evaluate a candidate’s technical abilities without relying on judgments or stereotypes.
Blind hiring: Some coding skills tests can be blind, meaning that the hiring team is not given any personal information about the candidate. This can help to eliminate bias based on gender, race, ethnicity, or other personal factors.
Skill-based assessment: Coding skills tests are designed to assess a candidate’s technical abilities rather than their prior experience or educational background. This can level the playing field for candidates who may not have had access to traditional computer science education.
Multifactorial scoring: Well-designed and balanced coding skills tests assess a candidate based on multiple factors (such as attention to detail, speed, and presentation), providing gender-agnostic evaluation.
Mitigate Gender Bias in Tech Hiring with Coding Skills Tests
Women in tech are making significant contributions to the industry, advancing the field in new and exciting ways. As we strive for greater diversity and inclusivity, it’s essential to recognize and support the experiences, struggles, and successes of women in tech.
Coding tests are a great way to reduce gender bias in the hiring process as they provide an objective, skill-based assessment that focuses on the candidate’s technical abilities.
If you’re searching for a reliable code skills assessment platform to evaluate your software development candidates, look no further than Codeaid!
Our comprehensive code-testing solution is here to help you pick the strongest candidates in an unbiased way. Ready to start hiring with confidence?
May 29, 2023by Codeaid Team
Crush the Bias: Navigating Subjectivity in Coding Test Grading
In 2022, poor-quality software in the US cost about $2.41 trillion.
So, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of tech recruiters are searching for more effective ways to find the best talent.
While many software developers are proactive in learning new technologies on their own time, relying solely on this approach can leave gaps in their knowledge and skills. In a more direct nutshell, they might not be learning what you need them to learn.
Globally, there is a significant developer shortage and that, coupled with remote work being the norm these days, incentivizes companies to go beyond the usual group of candidates and testing techniques.