At Google, women make up 30 per cent of the company’s overall workforce, but hold 17 per cent of its tech jobs. At Facebook, 15 per cent of tech roles are staffed by women. At Twitter, it drops to ten per cent. For non-technical jobs at Twitter, such as marketing, HR and sales the gender split is 50-50.
While the statistics seem to be getting better in other STEM fields, the technology sector still has far to go, according to Christianne Corbett of the Association of University Women.
“The number one thing holding women back is stereotypes,” Corbett said. “The stereotype is that girls and women are not as good at math and science as boys and men are. There’s evidence that by first grade, most kids already associate math with boys, and the same can be said of technology. This is just a belief most of us have. It’s a reflection more of our culture than anything individual.”
For women who do choose computing, and who wind up in technical jobs, companies need to make a “welcoming environment” for them, said Corbett.
For example, Google is devoting resources to workshops on unconscious bias. Furthermore, Judith Williams, Google’s diversity manager, called out company Chairman Eric Schmidt for behavior that seemed biased.
Managers at Chevron are now being rated in their performance evaluations on their ability to reach diversity goals, said executive VP Michael Wirth. And at Procter & Gamble, managers’ stock options are tied to diversity goals, according to the company’s chief diversity officer, William Gipson.
Facebook is another company that has put diversity at the forefront of its agenda. The company has joined forced with Inspiring Fifty, a non-profit organisation that showcases female role models in the European technology sector, to promote the importance of diversity.
This partnership follows on from a joint event it held in September, which led to much debate about best practices of tackling diversity in the workplace. It also coincided with Lean In’s and McKinsey’s release “Women in the Workplace 2015”, which revealed that “at the current pace of progress, we are more than 100 years away from gender equality in the C-suite”.
Facebook VP EMEA Nicola Mendelsohn said about the initiative: “I was lucky enough to first meet the Inspiring Fifty team at an event they co-hosted at 10 Downing Street in the UK earlier this year. It was clear the passion and drive they have to create change in the sector by showcasing and celebrating female role models. Facebook is passionate about creating change too and tackling biases that hinder diversity. Together we strive to make a difference.”
Inspiring Fifty co-initiators Janneke Niessen and Joelle Frijters added: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Facebook, as we share the same important goals around diversity, and working together we will simply have more impact. We look forward to collaborating to debate and shape ideas to bring about positive and lasting change to the sector.”
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