Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What's Behind Tech Industry's Diversity Drought

Late last year, Rev. Jesse Jackson called for greater diversity in the tech industry during a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook and a standing room only talk inside Intel's Santa Clara headquarters, telling him to move Apple stores "to the ghetto" as well as urging companies to increase their diversity efforts.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, who believes education and opportunity are keys to providing minorities better chances in getting into diversity IT jobs, has constantly sought greater inclusion in the tech world of African Americans and other minorities, saying "There have been patterns of exclusion of Blacks and Latinos...It limits growth. Inclusion leads to growth,” a NBC Bay Area news story said.

His diversity pitch in the said meeting came after some companies reported dismal showing of diversity in their workforces.

Fortune came up with a summary of these reports. At least 14 tech companies have released data. In an effort to provide further clarity, Fortune has ranked them in individual categories and then again overall, using a point system. And as suspected, these companies are shown to be generally more men, white and Asian.

Gender diversity (overall): Mostly men than women
The top 3 companies in this category – most diverse to least:
  • Pandora (51% male, 49% female)
  • Indiegogo (55% male, 45% female)
  • eBay (58% male, 42% female)
Gender diversity (leadership only): Mostly men than women
The top company in this category – most diverse to least:
  • Indiegogo (57% male, 43% female), followed by
  • Apple, eBay and Hewlett-Packard (72% male, 28% female), respectively.
  • The rest have fewer women.
Gender diversity (technical workers only): Mostly men than women
The top 3 companies in this category – most diverse to least:
  • Indiegogo (67% male, 33% female),
  • eBay (76% male, 24% female),
  • Pinterest (79% male, 21% female)
Ethnic diversity (overall): Mostly white and Asian
Topping the list from most diverse to least are: Apple, LinkedIn, Intel

Ethnic diversity (leadership only): Mostly white and Asian
Topping the list from most diverse to least are: Apple, LinkedIn, Intel

Why fewer women and minorities?
A recent article notes some factors that contribute to a low percentage of women representation in tech, notably in leadership and technical roles -- that's when the numbers get downright depressing.
"Girls don't get as much opportunity to use computers," says Ariane Hegewisch, a study director for the Institute for Women's Policy Research. They also get fewer chances to explore subjects like mathematics or science, in part because of lack of encouragement, curricula that appeal more to boys than girls and a negative stereotype about girls' technical abilities.

Other findings of the study noted by the article above, include the following:
  • Few women with MBAs are likely to enter tech-intensive industries; 
  • Women in business roles within tech companies are more likely to start at the entry level compared with men; 
  • Women in Silicon Valley earn less than their male peers. 

Another noted observation is many women who want to be stay-at-home moms tend to choose careers in education, nursing, social work and counselling, as these offer more flexibility than the typical technology job, according to Pew Research Center report, says one Forbes article. The article opines that the real reason is that most women clearly aren’t as interested in technology-related work as men are.

When it comes to minorities' presence in diversity information technology jobs one problem is pipeline. White and Asian men are much more likely to have access and take advantage of technical schooling that leads to jobs at tech firms than historically disadvantaged minorities. - See more here:

To address this,  the Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday will launch a push to increase African American representation in the tech sector. […] The CBC Tech 2020 initiative will launch Tuesday with an event featuring caucus members who will “outline diversity principles, discuss industry best practices, highlight African American students and entrepreneurs, and present legislation focused on increasing STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education,” the group said last week. - Read more here:

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