Last year, several high tech firms released the percentage of their employees who are female. Not surprisingly to anybody who has watches the industry knows, high tech companies are male-dominated and often actively hostile to women.

Google is a case in point. After several years of promoting men over equally or more-qualified women, Google's inner circle now resembles much of the rest of the industry: a frat-house environment that's dismissive of women.

What's ironic and sad about this situation is that the science is perfectly clear: women CEOs outperform male CEOs, women make better money managers, and women stay cooler in a crisis. But wait, there's more.

A series of tests conducted at M.I.T. gathered volunteers randomly into teams and assigned them typical team projects: logical analysis, brainstorming and the coordination of corporate activity. They then measured how much each team accomplished.

As you might expect, some teams significantly outperformed others, were "smarter" if you will. Teams with higher average I.Q.s didn't outperform teams with lower I.Q.s Neither did teams full of extroverts or highly motivated people.

There were three factors correlated with team success. First, teams where everyone contributed equally outperformed teams that didn't. Second, teams with high "emotional intelligence" outperformed those less gifted in that area.

Third, and most important, teams that included women consistently outperformed all-male teams. And it wasn't just in teams some kind of "diversity" thing. The correlation was continuous: the more women on a team, the better its performance.

Even more significantly, when the teams interacted online without ever meeting face-to-face, the results were the same: "more women=smarter teams." So why aren't there more women in high tech, where teamwork is obviously crucial?

It turns out that gender bias starts in the selection of candidates to be interviewed. Several studies have shown that a resume bearing a man's name result in more job interviews than the identical resume bearing a woman's name.

Since the women are filtered out by gender bias, fewer women are hired for entry level jobs in high tech, and therefore there are fewer to rise in the ranks. In other words, the common complaint that "we can't find qualified women" is complete BS.

Consider this parallel example. In the past, orchestra conductors hired male musicians much more frequently than female musicians because in the opinion of the conductors the men who auditioned were "better musicians."

Then, however, somebody had the bright idea that auditions should be conducted with the musician behind a cloth screen so the conductor couldn't tell the gender of the person auditioning. (Auditioners are identified by number.)

Guess what happened? Suddenly, female musicians sounded as talented as their male counterparts. (Whoda thunk it!) Today both genders are hired to as orchestral musicians in equal numbers.

With that solution in mind, here's my suggestion for the high tech industry.

Strip candidates' names off their resumes before you select which candidates to interview. Then conduct interviews remotely, with the candidate represented as a neutral-gender avatar mirroring the candidate's facial expressions. Morph the candidate's voice so that it's gender neutral.

Here's what will happen. Just as women suddenly became "better musicians" when the conductor didn't know their gender, the pool of female candidates qualified to work in high tech will magically become larger.

This technology exists to do this today. The only question now is which of these supposedly brilliant high tech firms will be the first to use technology to make their teams smarter than the competition's?

Published on: Jan 18, 2015