International Women’s Day 2021

International Women's Day graphic with the words "Let's all choose to challenge. #IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge"

Source: internationalwomensday.com

The International Women’s Day’s theme for 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. On this day we reflect on how we have challenged ourselves at PLUS QA to create a gender equal community. As partner at PLUS QA and an Asian American woman, I realize I am in a position where I can help make an impact.

Last week PLUS QA officially became a certified minority-owned business. We received our MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) certification from the NMSDC (National Minority Supplier Development Council). NMSDC is the largest and most prominent certification organization for minority-owned businesses with a thorough certification process and strict guidelines. This certification has never been more relevant as the nation turns its focus on the inequity many people of color face in America. Companies at all levels are seeing the importance of doing business with certified MBEs.

Diversity has always been important to us ever since PLUS QA was founded almost 12 years ago – diversity among race, ethnicity, gender and backgrounds. Last year we started having open discussions about how we could continue to challenge ourselves to increase our diversity among employees, especially improving our ratio of women employees.

Women in a team meeting at PLUS QAAccording to ISEMag, as of 2018, women held only 25% of all the jobs in the tech industry, despite women making up almost half of the workforce. The Women in Tech report by PWC, found that only 27% of female students they surveyed said they would consider a career in technology, compared to 61% of males, and only 3% said it was their first choice. There are a number of reasons why females are less likely to consider a career in tech. 33% of male respondents reported that they had someone suggest a tech career to them, however only 16% of females reported to have received a similar suggestion. Another reason why females are less likely to consider a career in the tech industry is that there are not enough female role models in the industry.

Audrey smiling at the camera with a plant behind her.

Audrey Bonnet, Partner at PLUS QA photosbykim.com

One of the challenges we face at PLUS QA is that we receive significantly fewer applications from women candidates. We decided we needed to think outside of the box and open up our search and how we view candidate resumes. Some of the strongest testers we have at PLUS QA are women who are sharp, fast-learners and tech-savvy but do not necessarily have a degree in computer science. By being open to different educational backgrounds and work experience, it has opened us up to more candidates. We can not do this alone either, so we have also asked for help from our employees. We have had a lot of success finding great new testers based on referrals from our team. In the last 4 months, 5 out of the 9 people we hired are women or non-binary. Equality among our leadership roles is important as well. We are proud to say that 4 out of 6 of our upper management positions are held by women.

In order to help support women in tech, we became a sponsor for PDXWIT (Portland Women in Tech) in 2021. PDXWIT exists to empower those who identify as women, non-binary and underrepresented people to join and stay in tech. Technology is shaping the future. PDXWIT believes “in reducing the imbalances that exist in tech today so that everyone is represented and skilled in an industry that is shaping the future of humanity.”

We have partnered with the non-profit Lead By Example Mentoring who is launching their new website today. LBE offers mentorship programs with the goal to give youth equal opportunities and guidance from experts for their careers. We have volunteered the services of our marketing and development team over the past few months to design and build their website. The mentoring website will allow candidates to apply for a mentee slot and today, in honor of International Women’s Day 2021, they will start with accepting women applicants.

Screenshot of Lead By Example Mentoring's website

International Women’s Day highlights the role we can all play in helping to create an inclusive world. At PLUS QA we strive to provide equal pay no matter what the person’s gender and equal opportunities for promotions and leadership roles. We know we can’t stop there though. We can always do better and in 2021 we challenge ourselves to continue to make a difference.

Devloper at work stationArtistic Mural of a fox painted on wall