Siblings Launch Website, App to Help Close Gender Gap in STEM Jobs
Before you choose a business partner, you should have good idea of that person’s character, background, education, and strengths.
Ruth Chandler Cook, founder of the new online recruiting tool HireHer, had a distinct advantage in this regard—and not just because she had years of experience as a top human resources professional for the federal government.
She had inside information.
“I’ve always called him ‘my big-little brother’ because he’s wise beyond his years,” Cook said of her Chief Technology Officer and brother Aaron Chandler, sitting beside her in the ground floor atrium of Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS).
Ruth, a 2015 graduate of the Georgetown University master’s degree program in Human Resources Management, and Aaron, who completed the graduate Technology Management program at the same time, were back at SCS to talk about Ruth’s startup, which promotes female and diverse job candidates in finance, medicine, and the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
A Tool for Companies and Job Candidates
HireHer offers solutions both for job candidates and companies that are interested in hiring them. For job seekers, HireHer’s website and mobile application get their information in front of prospective employers. That includes a short video and a chat option, if the employer so chooses. For businesses, there is that extra assurance that they won’t overlook diverse candidates who might otherwise go under the radar.
“It’s daunting to employers when they post jobs and have 500 candidates to look through,” Ruth said. “On the applicants’ side—they never know what happened to their application. The app seeks to make things more efficient, but also more human.”
HireHer also offers diversity consulting and mentorship opportunities. Ruth and Aaron introduced the company at TechCrunch Disrupt New York in May and are headed to TechCrunch’s Disrupt San Francisco in September to promote it.
A High-Achieving Family
The siblings grew up in a large Columbia, Md., family that put a high value on education. Both of their parents have law degrees, and their father, an emeritus professor at The George Washington University Law School, was the first black law professor at the University of Maryland. In addition to his Georgetown degree, Aaron has an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business that he obtained along with his brother David. Another brother, James P. Chandler, teaches brain surgery at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
Ruth and Aaron’s sister Lynne, who died three years ago after a brief illness, was a NASA scientist who worked on the Hubble Telescope when few people even knew what it was. Yet Ruth said that despite her sister’s many accomplishments, she did not get the recognition—or salary—she deserved. The sexism and discrimination Lynne believed she faced at work fueled Ruth to take action—and from there she started HireHer.
HireHer “is a way to honor my sister’s legacy,” Ruth said, and then added in reference to the 2016 film about black female scientists who worked at NASA decades earlier: “She’s my modern day ‘Hidden Figure.’”
That movie dramatized the prejudice and injustices that minority women in math and science faced in the early 1960s at the dawn of the space age. Today, prejudice still exists, of course, but there is also the well-founded (and research-supported) realization that diverse workplaces are not just better places to work: they’re more profitable as well.
“With better information and tools, we think businesses can overcome this challenge,” said Aaron.
Added Ruth: “I believe they want to.”