Diversity Search: How to Find Female Engineers


Based on a study from Deloitte, highly inclusive organizations generate 1.4 times more revenue than their not diverse competitors. Diversity is hotter than ever and is a topic on many recruiters’ agendas, especially when hiring women in tech. However, finding female engineers can be looking for a needle in a haystack. Together with experts in sourcing and recruitment, we have created this step-by-step guide that will help you find female engineers.

After reading this article, you will:

  • Understand why it is important to have a diversified (tech) team
  • Learn to create specific Boolean Strings targeting woman
  • Know to find female engineers on Twitter
  • Learn how Reddit and Dev.to can help you in your search
  • Create better job descriptions to attract female applicants
  • Have more confidence in how to find female engineers.

Even though diversity is a much broader topic than just gender equality, this article will focus specifically on how to find female engineers.

Why Does Diversity Matter for Business?

Besides social responsibility, companies benefit from diversity hiring in business terms. Let us go through the main improvements that employers can achieve when balancing genders in their teams:

Achieve higher productivity

Diversity allows the implementation of different methods of thinking and analytical approaches. Research from Kellogg School suggests that cognitively diverse teams perform better on hard problems. McKinsey research shows that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform those that are not.

According to a study from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, only 25% of all tech roles globally are held by women. Although following The World Economic Forum research, gender equality can increase company workforce productivity by as much as 16%.

Eliminate tech talent shortages

There is a huge demand for tech roles all over the world, companies can overcome difficulties with hiring by enlarging their candidate pools and uprooting gender discrimination within their teams.

Increase in revenues

According to data from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, companies that increased the share of female leaders up to 30% demonstrated a 15% increase in profits.

It is important to have a well-balanced team. Still, many companies struggle. Following the PayScale report, males dominate in both tech and non-tech industries:

This step-by-step guide will show you how to find female engineers and set you up for success.

How to Create a Job Description to Attract More Female Engineers

When you declare that your company is focused on diversity hiring, review your job descriptions and ensure they look attractive to female candidates.

“Analyze your job descriptions to minimize unnecessary gendered or gender-biased adjectives, be clear about what the actual requirements are versus nice-to-haves so that more women apply instead of choosing to self-select out, have more women in technical roles on your job interview panels, and encourage current female employees to actively refer and recommend qualified women from their networks,” says Maria Gaggl, project manager at Synopsys.

Try not to be aggressive in your job description. Avoid words like “guru” or “ninja.” First, these are buzzwords; second, they signal that an employee will be responsible for everything. Be specific in the requirements, responsibilities, and expectations.

Understand female candidates better. Women usually feel they need to meet all of a job’s criteria. Ensure that the criteria listed are 100% essential to be advertised. Most female applicants will not apply unless they meet 100% of the writers.

Wies van der Ven, Recruiting and diversity specialist at BCG, uses AI tools to ensure that the words in her job descriptions resonate with a broader pool of qualified candidates.

Textio, an AI-powered tool, creates gender-neutral descriptions using natural langue programming and data mining to point out words that resonate more with male or female readers.

Next to a job description that resonates with female engineers, it is important to make your company an attractive place to work for female engineers! Highlight your company’s commitment to gender parity in visible ways to attract more women and men who want to work in a more diverse environment. Organize gender equality initiatives, participate in conferences, and share cases of successful diversity hiring. It can be published on social media, blogs, or external resources. Make sure to highlight your openness to diversity on your job page, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other company official channels.

Let your female engineers actively share their experience working for your company on your career page and involve them as much as possible in the hiring process.

How to Retain Female Engineers

To be successful in your diversity hiring, follow this excellent advice from Tanya Janca, founder of SheHacksPurple.dev:

“My advice for any company hoping to attract and maintain more women employees is to speak to the ones you already have and ensure they are happy. Verify they are paid fairly, given the same opportunities as other employees, and not expected to do other tasks unrelated to their jobs (such as minute taking for all meetings, serving coffee, organizing office parties, or cleaning the shared office fridge). Ask your employees from all underrepresented groups what could be improved, if they are having any issues, and if they would recommend a friend come work there. Keep improving until “Would you recommend us to a friend?” is always answered with “yes!” Your current employees are your best, or worst, an advertisement for your workplace.”

Paolina Vladova, DevOps at Programista, gives another great piece of advice for companies to start hiring female and diverse talents:

“Start an internship program and make sure that your company gives a chance for development to more women. Thanks to the internship program at Programista, we employ ~40% of women in a very dominantly male sector.”

Where can you find female engineers?

If you are not bound to a specific location or country, you can increase your chances by searching in which country female engineers are represented the most.

According to a report from HackerRank, India, United Arab Emirates, and Romania have the largest percentage of female engineers participating in a HackerRank test.

The table looks pretty different if you are specifically looking for countries with the most talented female engineers. Russia, Italy, and Poland are the countries with the highest average percentage on a HackerRank test. Despite their share of female engineers, the United Arab Emirates and India are not even in the top 20.

The most popular stack among female engineers is Java, Javascript, C, and C++.

How to Estimate the Number of Female Developers in Your Target Location

Olena Konovalova, Sr. Sourcer at MatcHR, shares the following advice:

“Create a regular LinkedIn Boolean search by skills and location. Look through 10 pages and calculate the number of female profiles that you find. Divide this number by the total number of people on 10 pages (250). The outcome is the average % of target female engineers on the market. It is not the exact number, but it will give you an overall understanding of your market.”

6 Sourcing Strategies to Finding Female Engineers

Companies overlook thousands of qualified female developers because they don’t have a clear strategy for diversity hiring. In this section, we have aggregated 6 sourcing strategies to help you enlarge your pool of female engineers.

1. Name Search

Glen Cathey shared a list of female names in his blog that you can include in your boolean search. Create a usual search in LinkedIn specified by technology and location and add this Boolean operator (add it to the first name field in the keyword section):

(Abigail OR Adriana OR Adrienne OR Aimee OR Alejandra OR Alexa OR Alexandra OR Alexandria OR Alexis OR Alice OR Alicia OR Alisha OR Alison OR Allison OR Alyssa OR Amanda OR Amber OR Amy OR Ana OR Andrea OR Angel OR Angela OR Angelica OR Angie OR Anita OR Ann OR Anna OR Anne OR Annette OR Annie OR April OR Ariana OR Ariel OR Arlene OR Ashlee OR Ashley OR Audrey OR Autumn OR Bailey OR Barbara OR Becky OR Belinda OR Beth OR Bethany OR Betty OR Beverly OR Bianca OR Bonnie OR Brandi OR Brandy OR Breanna OR Brenda OR Briana OR Brianna OR Bridget OR Brittany OR Brittney OR Brooke OR Caitlin OR Caitlyn OR Candace OR Candice OR Carla OR Carly OR Carmen OR Carol OR Carole OR Caroline OR Carolyn OR Carrie OR Casey OR Cassandra OR Cassidy OR Cassie OR Catherine OR Cathy OR Charlene OR Charlotte OR Chelsea OR Chelsey OR Cheryl OR Cheyenne OR Chloe OR Christie OR Christina OR Christine OR Christy OR Cindy OR Claire OR Claudia OR Colleen OR Connie OR Constance OR Courtney OR Cristina OR Crystal OR Cynthia OR Daisy OR Dana OR Danielle OR Darlene OR Dawn OR Deanna OR Debbie OR Deborah OR Debra OR Delores OR Denise OR Desiree OR Destiny OR Diamond OR Diana OR Diane OR Dianne OR Dolores OR Dominique OR Donna OR Doreen OR Doris OR Dorothy OR Ebony OR Eileen OR Elaine OR Elizabeth OR Ellen OR Emily OR Emma OR Erica OR Erika OR Erin OR Eva OR Evelyn OR Faith OR Felicia OR Frances OR Gabriela OR Gabriella OR Gabrielle OR Gail OR Gayle OR Geraldine OR Gina OR Glenda OR Gloria OR Grace OR Gwendolyn OR Hailey OR Haley OR Hannah OR Hayley OR Heather OR Heidi OR Helen OR Holly OR Irene OR Isabel OR Isabella OR Jackie OR Jaclyn OR Jacqueline OR Jade OR Jaime OR Jamie OR Jan OR Jane OR Janet OR Janice OR Janis OR Jasmin OR Jasmine OR Jean OR Jeanette OR Jeanne OR Jenna OR Jennifer OR Jenny OR Jessica OR Jill OR Jillian OR Jo OR Joan OR Joann OR Joanna OR Joanne OR Jocelyn OR Jodi OR Jody OR Jordan OR Josephine OR Joy OR Joyce OR Juanita OR Judith OR Judy OR Julia OR Julie OR June OR Kaitlin OR Kaitlyn OR Kara OR Karen OR Kari OR Karina OR Karla OR Katelyn OR Katherine OR Kathleen OR Kathryn OR Kathy OR Katie OR Katrina OR Kay OR Kayla OR Kaylee OR Kelli OR Kellie OR Kelly OR Kelsey OR Kendra OR Kerri OR Kerry OR Kiara OR Kim OR Kimberly OR Kirsten OR Krista OR Kristen OR Kristi OR Kristie OR Kristin OR Kristina OR Kristine OR Kristy OR Krystal OR Kylie OR Lacey OR Latasha OR Latoya OR Laura OR Lauren OR Laurie OR Leah OR Leslie OR Lillian OR Linda OR Lindsay OR Lindsey OR Lisa OR Lois OR Loretta OR Lori OR Lorraine OR Louise OR Lydia OR Lynda OR Lynn OR Lynne OR Mackenzie OR Madeline OR Madison OR Makayla OR Mallory OR Mandy OR Marcia OR Margaret OR Maria OR Mariah OR Marianne OR Marie OR Marilyn OR Marisa OR Marissa OR Marjorie OR Marlene OR Marsha OR Martha OR Mary OR Maureen OR Mckenzie OR Meagan OR Megan OR Meghan OR Melanie OR Melinda OR Melissa OR Melody OR Mercedes OR Meredith OR Mia OR Michaela OR Michele OR Michelle OR Mikayla OR Mildred OR Mindy OR Miranda OR Misty OR Molly OR Monica OR Monique OR Morgan OR Nancy OR Natalie OR Natasha OR Nichole OR Nicole OR Nina OR Norma OR Olivia OR Paige OR Pam OR Pamela OR Patricia OR Patsy OR Patti OR Patty OR Paula OR Peggy OR Penny OR Phyllis OR Priscilla OR Rachael OR Rachel OR Raven OR Rebecca OR Rebekah OR Regina OR Renee OR Rhonda OR Rita OR Roberta OR Robin OR Robyn OR Rosa OR Rose OR Rosemary OR Roxanne OR Ruby OR Ruth OR Sabrina OR Sally OR Samantha OR Sandra OR Sandy OR Sara OR Sarah OR Savannah OR Selena OR Shannon OR Shari OR Sharon OR Shawna OR Sheena OR Sheila OR Shelby OR Shelia OR Shelley OR Shelly OR Sheri OR Sherri OR Sherry OR Sheryl OR Shirley OR Sierra OR Sonia OR Sonya OR Sophia OR Stacey OR Stacie OR Stacy OR Stefanie OR Stephanie OR Sue OR Summer OR Susan OR Suzanne OR Sydney OR Sylvia OR Tabitha OR Tamara OR Tami OR Tammie OR Tammy OR Tanya OR Tara OR Tasha OR Taylor OR Teresa OR Terri OR Terry OR Theresa OR Tiffany OR Tina OR Toni OR Tonya OR Tracey OR Traci OR Tracie OR Tracy OR Tricia OR Valerie OR Vanessa OR Veronica OR Vicki OR Vickie OR Vicky OR Victoria OR Virginia OR Vivian OR Wanda OR Wendy OR Whitney OR Yesenia OR Yolanda OR Yvette OR Yvonne OR Zoe)

It should look like this:

Wikipedia comprehensively lists the more popular male/female names in each country.

2. Community search

There are many communities specifically for female engineers. It is often hard to get into these groups, especially as a male sourcer or recruiter, but you can always ask a (female) colleague to help you out.

Some communities are open, and you can find members using a Boolean search of X-ray on Google. If you run out of inspiration, ask your female engineers in your team if they are part of any type of community for you to include in your search; below is an example of several US-based communities.

List of female-only tech communities (source: hiremorewomenintech.com):

  • Women in Tech — A membership organization for women in tech.
  • Lesbians Who Tech — A community of queer women in & around the tech (and the people who love them).
  • Ada’s List — A global community for women in tech based on principles of inclusion, empowerment, and diversity (UK, US + International).
  • Girls Who Code — A national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors. [US]
  • Women Who Code — A global movement inspiring women to excel in technology careers.
  • PyLadies — an international mentorship group focused on helping more women become active participants and leaders in the Python open-source community. [US, EU, Latin America, Africa, India]
  • Scientista Foundation — The one-stop site for campus women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
  • MotherCoders — A non-profit that helps moms on the ramp to technical careers.
  • League of Women Coders — A grassroots collective that focuses on coding, hacking, and learning together. We’re like a book club for superhero women coders (US).
  • Ladies Of Code — A community of professional women developers with a series of global meetups, scholarships, and conferences (EU).
  • Skillcrush — digital skills learning resource and blog.
  • Girl Develop It — A community that empowers women of diverse backgrounds worldwide to learn how to develop software.
  • Pipeline Angels — An angel investing bootcamp for women and is a network of new and seasoned women investors, is changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women and non-binary female social entrepreneurs (US).
  • Code Like A Girl — A community amplifying the voices of Women In Technology to change society’s perceptions of them and to inspire the next generation of girls to join us by providing Role Models.
  • Articulate Network — Raising the profile of women speakers, a volunteer initiative.
  • Change the Ratio — Foundation that raises the visibility of women in male-dominated fields.
  • Latinas in Computing — A community created by and for the Latinas in computing with a mission of promoting their representation and success in computing-related fields.
  • TechWomen empowers, connects, and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East by providing them the access and opportunity needed to advance their careers, pursue their dreams, and inspire women and girls in their communities. TechWomen is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East).
  • Berlin Geekettes —A community helping aspiring & established female tech innovators (Berlin, global).
  • Women Who Go Berlin — A meetup to encourage & educate underrepresented groups in tech through workshops, study groups & talks (Berlin).
  • Women Who Go — Building a more diverse and inclusive Golang community (Global).
  • Canadian Women in Communications and Technology — Empowering women in communications, digital media, and technology to achieve professional success (Canada).
  • Code First: Girls — Runs free courses and events that help young women learn the basics of web development and entrepreneurship (London, UK).
  • she++ is a social enterprise that empowers women to make their mark on the technology industry and seeks to dismantle the untrue stereotype that computer science is not a career for women.
  • SheCanCode — A social enterprise that aims to bridge the digital skills gap in technology by encouraging diversity, targeting women within the tech industry, and employers actively trying to make gender parity in their organizations a reality (London, London, Toronto, NY, SF, expanding to Berlin, Singapore, Paris, São Paulo, Sweden, Oslo, Denmark, Sydney, + more).
  • Women In Tech — Ruhr — enables women and other underrepresented groups to live their interest in technology and have a network for knowledge exchange (Dortmund/Ruhr area, Germany).

Once granted access to the community, don’t immediately start headhunting people but contribute to the community. Share thoughts, ask questions and connect with the people in the community and build relationships for the long run. Once you have established a relationship of trust, you can ask the community leaders to post a job offer or collaborate differently.

3. Twitter and hashtags

Jim Stroud shared this hint in his post on LinkedIn. Launch your search on Twitter using the following hashtags:

  • #ilooklikeanengineer
  • #wogrammers
  • #womenintech
  • #girlsinstem
  • #femaleengineer

After scraping Twitter profiles, enrich your data using any contact finding tool and outreach the prospects directly. Sometimes, people give links to their blogs or websites on their Twitter profiles.

How to scrape Twitter profiles and find contacts

Several tools enable you to scrape Twitter, but we recommend using Phantombuster:

  • Install Phantombuster Chrome extension
  • Authenticate to Twitter using it so that Phantombuster will act on your behalf.
  • Specify the Twitter profiles you want to scrape data from and add them to a Google Spreadsheet
  • Make this spreadsheet public so Phantombuster can access it
  • Launch this Phantom to scrape public info about the selected Twitter profiles.

You will get a Spreadsheet with contact information and users’ bio. Go through the list, qualify candidates and contact the best ones.

Another good tool to help you find relevant profiles on Twitter is Followerwonk (it is free). It offers great Twitter analytics and allows you to search based on a user’s bio. Once you’ve identified a potential candidate, you can start engaging with them directly and share job opportunities.

In the “Search Bios” tab on Followerwonk, click “more options” to add your target filters. Choose location and hashtags or keywords in the bio.

You will get a list of relevant users. Add them to Phantombuster or contact them directly if direct messages are available.

A hashtag search on Twitter

You can make a targeted search on Twitter right in its search box. You don’t have to have a profound Twitter profile for that — just an account.

There was a flashmob #ilooklikeanengineer (you are lucky if you have ever heard about it). Type-in this hashtag into the Twitter search field and choose “Latest” tweets — this will give you the advantage of finding potential prospects currently interested in the topic.

4. “She/her” on LinkedIn

There is a trend to specify personal pronouns on LinkedIn profiles. Use this Boolean string from Jonathan Kidder (wizardsourcer.com) to pull out female profiles:

(she OR her OR women OR woman OR lady OR ladies OR miss OR Mrs OR mother OR mothers OR sister OR sisters).

An example of such a boolean string could look like this:

Java AND (she OR her) AND New York.

With this string, you will get 5.990 search results. Enlarge or narrow it to your requirements.

5. Reddit search

Reddit is called the Internet on the Internet, with over 50 million visitors per day, and is the 6th most visited site in the world. Reddit is a forum where users can create their content. The most popular “Reddits” get upvoted, whereas non-interesting “Reddits” get downvoted. Reddit consists of thousands of subreddits (i.e., communities).

There are communities of Java developers, Vegetarians, Fans of Harry Potter, Growthhackers, Startupers, etc. If you use a keyword search, you can find several fast-growing and vigorous communities of developers with a particular experience.

In many cases, these communities have a pinned thread for posting jobs.

It is hard to search by location on Reddit, so the strategy works excellently if you hire remote teams and are flexible with geo targets.

The largest subreddit for female developers is Girls Gone Wired. The broad discussion field covers all topics from hiring and coaching to technical questions and new software/tools.

There is another community called “Female Engineers.” Even though it is a closed community, you can ask someone from other subreddits to grant you access or contact the moderators of Girls Gone Wired.

Women Who Code subreddit is not that widely presented (81 members), but it could be a good start for integration into the Reddit network.

Find a relevant thread by searching inside the subreddit.

Contact users who look relevant to you (filter upon their comments and posts), and send them a direct message pointing out that you “were impressed by a post or interested in the topic.”

After that, introduce yourself and ask a person for a LinkedIn profile to deanonymize each other. Or provide your own LI link and invite to connect. Yep, we know this can be a pretty time-consuming task, but nobody said it would be easy to climb Mount Everest either…

6. Dev.to

Dev.to is a community of software developers who write articles, participate in discussions, and build professional profiles. The network is built to pursue great code and career growth for its members.

Besides the great community-built content, Dev.to is a great source for headhunting. To find the right people , you need to use relevant hashtags. For example, let’s have #womenwhocode:

Click on the first post profile — you will find more insights about the person and links to other social accounts.

We recommend setting an account in Dev.to and follow/like those people who could be promising prospects for you.

Another # to use:

  • #womenintech
  • #shecoded
  • #inclusion
  • #codelikeagirl
  • #girlswhocode

Dev.to can also be useful for job posting, it is free. Just create an account, write a couple of relevant posts, start liking other articles, and then shout out your open job announcement. And don’t forget about hashtags like #career, #job, etc.

Final Words

Despite these practical tips, finding and attracting female engineers remains a tough job. With these tips in hand, your persistence and drive will eventually determine your success.

Article by:
Talent Sourcing Lead at Matchr
Talent Sourcing Lead at Matchr
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