Plato Elevate Winter Summit has been announced (Dec 7th-8th)


Back to resources

Building a Gender-Balanced Engineering Team

Building A Team
Company Culture

12 January, 2021

Roy Pereira
Roy Pereira

CEO at CalendarHero

Roy Pereira, CEO at Inc., speaks on his experience building a gender-balanced team in Canada and the efforts he made to adjust sourcing and hiring to meet his goal.


Building a gender-balanced engineering team, unfortunately, still implies challenging prejudices that have defined gender roles in the workplace for centuries. While some workplaces are doing better than others, Canada’s situation is somewhat unique but not uniform across the whole country. If you are hiring in Toronto -- where I am located -- you will be able, with little effort, to put an ethnically diverse team together. But gender diversity remains harder to accomplish.

Actions taken

To build a gender-balanced engineering team, we had to reconsider our entire recruiting and hiring process. To find some success, we had to go backward, rely heavily on feedback from women candidates/hires, learn from the experiences of other industry leaders and apply their best practices.


We were not happy with the inflow of female candidates for our engineering roles. If we could increase that number, we would be removing the first serious obstacle for having a more gender-balanced team. Our goal was that 50 percent of all candidates coming in should identify as women.

I talked to numerous women engineers and tech leaders in Toronto and beyond, asking them for their advice on how to fix this. It seemed that we were looking for women candidates in the wrong places -- mostly LinkedIn or Github -- and our sourcing should have been more targeted to include women engineers meetups and their personal networks.


We did a post-mortem on interviews and changed them mostly based on feedback we received from women who applied but decided that they didn’t want to join our team after all. They often felt uncomfortable during the interview, cornered in a small room with five male engineers showing off their knowledge like a “pissing contest”. Then, we asked our female HR manager to observe the interviews and provide recommendations on making the process more comfortable for women. Having women in an interview process is almost a must as it strongly signals to candidates that women are a crucial part of our team.

Employee Support

We also looked at what processes and benefits we had for all of our employees and how that helped our female employees. Health benefits and coverage, parental leave, workplace environment guidelines, and management communication styles were all impacted as we transitioned from an all-male company to a gender-balanced company. Basically, everyone who works for us needs to feel safe and empowered to do their best.

Lessons learned

  • Attracting and retaining a gender-balanced engineering team takes more than just wanting to have 50% of the candidates be women.

  • You need to radically analyse your talent acquisition strategies, hiring process, and employment benefits with an emphasis on thinking outside of the traditional male-oriented engineering hiring mentality. You don’t know what you don’t know.

  • Go and ask people who have successfully staffed their engineering teams successfully with a balanced approach.

  • And remember, just like any other engineering problem, keep trying to fix issues at each step of the process.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader

Related stories

Delegate successfully as a first time manager of Product Managers

24 November

Andrew Tsui, a Product Leader, works to build great teams that are independent, demonstrate mastery of their domain, and fully commit to their purpose.

Scaling Team
Building A Team
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Psychological Safety
Cross-Functional Collaboration
New Manager
Andrew Tsui

Andrew Tsui

Director of Product at Startup

Managing Team Collaboration After an Acquisition

10 November

Han Wang, Director of Engineering at Sonder Inc., shares the ins and outs of working successfully with the other half of the team after a merger.

Acquisition / Integration
Large Number Of Reports
Company Culture
Han Wang

Han Wang

Director of Engineering at Sonder Inc

Creating a Cultural Shift for Effective Meetings: Building a Writing Culture

10 November

Han Wang, Director of Engineering at Sonder Inc., talks about adopting a writing culture for making team meetings more effective.

Company Culture
Internal Communication
Han Wang

Han Wang

Director of Engineering at Sonder Inc

Why We Need Diversity

5 November

Sydney Russakov, Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn, shares her views on diversity and working together in the same office environment.

Goal Setting
Team Processes
Sydney Russakov

Sydney Russakov

Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn

How To Fast-Track Your Way Up The Corporate Ladder

28 October

Sudheer Bandaru, CEO at Insightly Analytics, shares how he dealt with employee turnover by enforcing a cultural shift.

Goal Setting
Company Culture
Career Path
Sudheer Bandaru

Sudheer Bandaru

CEO at Insightly Analytics

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato ( is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.