The ad was for a managerial sales role in the San Francisco office at ad retargeting company AdRoll. While it was a role the team knew many people would be well equipped for, the director at the office was shocked not one woman applied for the position.
“I would love to hire a female because we’ve got a male dominated management team, but why aren’t any of them coming forward and thinking they’re qualified?” the director told Stacey Manes, vice president of human resources and recruiting at the agency.
Manes said there are hordes of women who are qualified for roles in ad tech – we were sitting at a table of six senior women in AdRoll when we chatted – but too often women second guess themselves, she said.
“Research shows women are less likely to apply for a role if they don’t meet ten different bullets in the requirement section,” she said by way of example. “Whereas a man will meet two of ten and apply for it.
“I think we see those types of behaviours across women across the globe.”
These findings were documented by tech company Hewlett Packard a few years ago. “Women working at HP applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 per cent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 per cent of the job requirements,” the study found.
A further Forbes article questioned whether it was a confidence issue between the genders, however Harvard Business Review said it was more likely men and women didn’t want to waste time and energy on jobs they weren’t sure about.
Regardless of the reasoning behind it, Manes said to get more women to apply for roles it comes down to conversations and awareness, detailing a mentorship program the company has for all employees. Manes said they also need to be careful the job descriptions don’t have any unconscious bias included that would appeal to men more than women.
Look outside tech
From a more general perspective, Cat Prestipino, JAPAC marketing director at AdRoll, is concerned at the lack of diverse career backgrounds within the ad tech industry.
She said more firms need to look outside traditional ad tech roles when recruiting.
“It keeps coming up again and again that the tech industry here is small and we keep looking straight at tech,” she said.
“It’s about being diverse in building that pool and who is coming into that pool and looking for the skillset, the passion and enthusiasm, the intelligence and the ability to try anything.” It’s these skills Prestipino said she looks for, not just prior experience and knowledge.
You can teach anyone ad tech stuff – the vocab, figures and data for example – she said, but you need to have someone who is willing to learn.
Lead image: Back row (L-R): Maddy Barr-Hamilton, Rosie Brown, Niamh Fleck, Sophie Randall-Hughes, Nina Gerace
Middle row(L-R): Stephanie Hsiung, Bonny Neville, Elliott Walker, Stephanie King, Denise Wyer
Front seats (L-R): Cat Prestipino, Katie Maxwell. Michelle Filo, Stacey Manes