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Recruiting Tomorrow's Female Leaders: You're Going About It All Wrong

You can't lure next-generation female leaders into IT by talking tech. Verizon Vice President Janet Schijns explained why at this week's Women of the Channel event.

"If you are going to keep trying to get women into technology the way we have tried over the past 20 years, you will surely fail," said Schijns, speaking at The Women of the Channel Winter Workshop, an event hosted in New York this week by CRN publisher The Channel Company.

Schijns, who CRN recognized this year as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in theChannel, urged employers to tweak their recruiting approaches when targeting younger, and particularly female, generations. To start, Schijns said, don't sell potential female employees on a job in technology; sell them on a job in which technology can make the world a better place.

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"What it comes down to is that this next level of female leaders, they really want to deliver an answer and they want to do something that is meaningful in their lives," Schijns said. "Change your conversation with these next-generation females to not be about how proud you are that you worked 70 hours last week or made that 16th plane trip of the month, but about how you are changing the world."

At Verizon, for instance, Schijns said recruiters should stress how Verizon isn't just focused on wireless technology, but on how that technology can be used to create next-generation diabetes monitors and other connected-care devices to help patients receive better care.

"Show them it's not about technology," she said. "It's about answers that are saving lives and saving communities."

Another tip for on-boarding a new generation of female leaders, Schijns said, is to stress to them that their earnings and growth opportunities in IT are richer than any other industry out there.

"There is not as much inequality between men and women's earnings in this industry, unlike other industries," Schijns said.

Lastly, Schijns said, emphasize to young female leaders that they will always have the ability to stand out in IT, given how few women actually work in the market. "[They] will always have a unique brand in the room," Schijns said.

Indeed, the information technology market is one that's especially light on female employees, according to 2012 data from the U.S. Department of Labor. Statistics show that only 1.7 percent of workers in the IT market are women, making it third to only the construction industry, which hosts 1.2 percent, and the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry, which has 0.2 percent.

But, according to Schijns, that doesn't mean women don't belong in IT. In fact, their communication, multitasking and critical thinking capabilities bring plenty to the table -- it's just a matter of getting them to sit down.

"I ask you to think about what you, personally, are going to do when you leave here, to stay motivated every day to get more females into this industry," Schijns said.


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