The Tech Industry's Diversity Problem

An article was published in the New York Times last week titled 'The Top Jobs Where Women Are Outnumbered by Men Named John.' It covers several different fields where men named John (or James, or Michael, etc.) outnumber women in the same positions: senators, federal judges, and even newspaper editors. At this point, many of us are well aware of the imbalance between women and men in positions of power, but it's a shame the article isn't more shocking, right?


The inequality doesn't stop there – the tech world is notorious for under representing women and minorities, with questionably serious intentions of changing. In 2014, Google was one of the first to release it's diversity numbers, with Facebook, Apple, Twitter, and Yahoo not far behind. They all had similar situations: one-third of their workforce was comprised of women, Asian workers were over represented and holding around one-third of the jobs, with black and Hispanic employees only making up a percentage or two. Their statements: we know this is bad, and we are working to change it.

What are the problems?

Implicit bias. When scientists and researchers at academic institutions were given identical resumes with either a female or male name and asked to consider them as job candidates, they were less likely to offer the job to the female candidate and even offered her, on average, $4000 less in salary than the male candidate. The only difference between the candidates was their name, so it's difficult to argue that the disparity could be related to skills or experience.

This type of bias crosses cultural lines as well, with candidates with white-sounding names being 50 percent more likely to receive a response than those with black-sounding names.

Hiring for a "culture fit." Silicon Valley and the tech world spearheaded the process of hiring someone who perpetuates a unified office culture. To maintain a blurred line between work and play, coworkers are closer to friends, and who are we more likely to hire as a "friend"? Someone who is just like us. Add to this a generous referral bonus for employees to pull from their current network, and there's almost no hope of bringing in an ounce of diversity.

The tech industry's reputation precedes it. Among computer science and engineering graduates with bachelor's and advanced degrees, 26 percent are Asian, 8 percent are Hispanic, and 6 percent are black, but technicaly workers at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter are 37 percent Asian, 3 percent Hispanic, and 1 percent black.  Underrepresented minorities are more likely to take their technical skills to a business or administrative position, and for an understandable reason. Many qualified minority candidates simply aren't looking in tech because they consider it an unsupportive environment.

The good news is: once aware of this issue, there are things a company can do about it. Suggestions and strategies coming in our next post!


Posted: 5/15/2018 1:31:07 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments