It’s true: women have what it takes to be successful traders, entrepreneurs, and software engineers. And now, using advances in gamification, neuroscience, and data science, there is a way to prove it. Emerging new career assessment and hiring platforms clearly show that women are equally qualified for traditionally male-dominated professions, even though the current workplace doesn’t reflect this yet.
Once thought of as purely entertainment, games are now being used as accurate behavioral assessment tools. But this isn’t the only way that games are changing HR practices. Games and “gamification”-the application of game principles to non-game contexts-can be used to attract, onboard, engage, motivate, and train employees.
Employers are deploying games as recruitment exercises that allow candidates and employees to learn about themselves and identify areas for development. They are also using sophisticated, realistic 3D or 4D (augmented reality) simulations to train employees on difficult tasks. Organizations have used gamification techniques to engage and motivate employees around health and financial wellness and even as a way to help drive employee referrals.
Game technologies are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace since they appeal to the millennial generation, which has grown up playing video and computer games together while also using mobile devices. But this is much more than fun. Serious games can generate up to millions of data points that can then be fed into machine-learning algorithms to help employers make smart HR decisions to win the war for talent.
For example, in a game, rather than asking someone what they would do (and receiving a flattering self-portrait in reply), you can directly and objectively measure a person’s behavior. Using games, you can remove the self-report bias that is present in even the best-designed personality or career questionnaire.
In fact, the National Science Foundation, US Army Research Institute and the US intelligence community have all supported projects that test human behavior using video game platforms. These platforms are of interest to other demographics, too. Immersive and engaging, they can grab the attention of graduates and job seekers. They are especially successful with millennials, the generation that now represents the largest share of the American workforce, as well as Generation Z, the group now entering the workforce.
The neuroscience community has developed behavioral games that collect quantitative and unbiased data on cognitive and emotional aptitudes, which can then be mapped to career success. These data points allow people to form a more objective and accurate idea of the kind of career that would suit them than if they followed the traditional approach, which calculates according to their interests, motivations or academic history and can be muddled by subjective self-reporting and gender stereotyping. Neuroscience can recommend careers in an objective and bias-free way.
In addition, researchers have long lamented the limitations of traditional (linear) modeling to uncover the complex relationship between traits and career success. But advances in machine-learning algorithms, data science and artificial intelligence are radically improving this predictive power. Sophisticated analysis techniques allow us to capture non-linear relationships, and are therefore better at modeling real-life problems.
However, nothing is infallible, not even an algorithm. It’s important that the formulas used for career assessment and hiring are tested and confirmed to be free of bias. If they are, they essentially become “blind auditions” for career assessment and hiring. Blind auditions evaluate people on their raw potential, free of gender-bias. In orchestras, they have increased female participation from 5 percent to 35 percent. Unbiased career assessment and hiring could also see more diverse candidates participating in traditionally white, male professions.
It’s already happening, according to the early data. These platforms are allowing companies to achieve gender parity in their application flow and reach a larger selection of people from non-traditional backgrounds.
It’s time to harness the power of new technologies to bring career assessment and hiring into the 21st century. This will benefit not only women and minorities, but also the global economy. Ultimately, improving diversity in the workforce is not just about equality; it is about economic health.