It’s no secret that tech has a diversity problem. But while many businesses seem genuinely committed to increasing the number of women in tech, there is still a long way to go.
The current state of tech
Take Google, for example: in 2016, the company’s workforce was just 31% female. Looking at other big names in tech, it’s a similar story: YouTube (31%), Microsoft (26%), Apple (32%), and Facebook (35%) all have their work cut out tackling gender diversity.
It’s a huge challenge for the industry, but having good intentions isn’t enough. The quit rate in the tech industry is more than twice as high for women (41%) as it is for men (17%). Plus, research by the Center for Talent Innovation showed that more than half of women who studied science, engineering and technology abandoned their tech training completely after quitting.
Where does the problem lie?
So how did things get so bad? Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, Google’s Global Head of Women and Black Community Engagement, believes that the tech diversity problem is a hangover from when the industry’s big names were first created. “I really don’t believe that as an industry, it’s coming from a place of hate,” she explains.
“I think these companies were just set up by friends of friends of friends, who hired their friends. They scaled and grew so fast that now we’re trying to fix a problem that started at the core of the foundation.”
Another reason may be the way that companies recruit talent. Research conducted by Stanford revealed that references to gender stereotypes, inappropriate jokes, geek culture, and masculine language were often present during recruiting sessions. The findings also revealed a tendency for these sessions to be led by men.
Even if a female candidate bags herself a role at a tech company, diversity remains an ongoing issue. A study carried out by Emoulument.com earlier this year revealed that women at tech firms earn 28% less than their male counterparts. According to the findings, this is a trend that continues across the board, regardless of the role or company size.
The case for more diversity
The case for greater diversity in tech is clear. A study by Morgan Stanley found that more diverse workplaces have better returns and less volatility. And according to McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform against industry medians.
Today, the increasingly consumable nature of technology is driving the need for people with creative, strategic, design, problem-solving, social minds to imagine the possibilities and influence business and society with those opportunities. The more diverse a workforce, the more tech companies are able to cover all bases.
It’s time the tech industry stopped talking the talk and started walking the walk. And while we’re talking about women in tech, there’s also the issue of women in finance, politics, entertainment – we could go on…
If you are keen to find out more, Talent is hosting a Diversity in Tech event in Berlin this November. This is your chance to be part of the discussion about not just gender diversity, but creating a more diverse tech workforce in terms of ethnicity, culture, religion and more.