A few days ago I had the opportunity to talk at the Texas Tribune Festival event on the topic “Is Texas Good for Women?” As you might expect, there were a couple of differing viewpoints on the panel. I believe that Texas is good for women, but that’s for another day.
By complete chance, this past Tuesday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal had a big insert – “Woman in the Work Place,” with a whole slew of fascinating articles covering the issue of working women. One article in particular that I read discussed what is called the Rooney Rule, which is being utilized by the National Football League in trying to bring more diversity to the league. This approach says you have to at least interview one woman or underrepresented minority with the goal of increasing the diversity. It seems to have had some success with the football folks. So why not try with other areas? With the difficulty of seeing women in tech firms, it was suggested that the same approach could be used to add more women and underrepresented minorities to the tech ranks.
This prompted a bit of research. What actually happens if a woman is interviewed for a position? Only one woman? As it turns out, according to the article, the likelihood is ‘statistically zero chance’ that the woman will be hired, according to an analysis by the Harvard Business Review. However, and this is important, her chances for employment get better if she is not the only female being considered.
I have to say I find that kind of weird. So, hypothetically, if there are 15 candidates for a job, 14 men and 1 woman, the woman loses every time. But if there are 13 men and 2 women, her odds go up. The article doesn’t say how much, just that ‘the odds change.’
It seems to me that we all should be asking ourselves: if we don’t see women applying, does that even hit our consciousness? Do we even notice that half of the population is not being interviewed? And conversely, if we as women aren’t applying for the jobs, do we need to do something different? Do we feel like we would actually be heard and get the interview?
We know from reading various articles that men are much more likely to apply for a job in some cases than a woman. We women are more hesitant -we want to be sure we are absolutely qualified while a lot of guys just go for the job anyway. The guys keep throwing the job spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks, and we’re not as likely to take that chance. If the research is correct, this might be a spur for us to do more risk taking in applying for jobs. All they can do is say no, and they just might say yes….if there are a few of us taking the chance.
So here is my question – do you think something like a Rooney Rule for employers is a good idea or not? I am not meaning a law – but a common employment practice. And do you think we women ought to be trying for jobs even if we aren’t one hundred percent sure we’re qualified? I’d like to hear from you.