Gender Diversity Remains A Sad Thing In Tech

by Sohini Bagchi    Jun 22, 2015

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Workplace diversity has been a much debated topic today, especially in the IT industry that is known for being male-dominated (and mostly white men). A recent study by LinkedIn further reitorates that Silicon Valley isn’t prioritizing gender diversity. The study showed the tech industry is trailing several other sectors when it comes to including women in leadership and senior technology roles.

For example, the study shows the medical, government, professional services, retail, entertainment, financial and architecture and engineering sectors all have a higher percentage of women as software engineers than the tech industry, whose talent pool is just 20.3 percent female. 

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(Source: LinkedIn)

“Technology companies are generally considered to be some of the most sought-after employers in the world. We have an inherent ‘home field advantage’ when it comes to recruiting the largest and richest talent pools of our most critical position: software engineers,” LinkedIn said in a blog post. “However, despite this advantage, our data indicates that software engineering teams in tech have proportionally fewer women than several non-tech industries.”

Experts believe a lot more needs to be done to achieve gender equality in the workplace. While diversity in business offers a more open culture and promotes humanitarian values, another recent research makes it increasingly clear that companies with more diverse workforces also perform better financially.

A McKinsey report reveals that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are 30 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. Moreover, it states diversity as competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time.

“More diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns. As a result, they are also likely to bring some level of competitive advantage for companies that can attract and retain such diverse talent,” says Vivian Hunt a director in McKinsey and co-author of the report.

The study found in Twitter, only 10 percent of tech jobs in its global workforce belong to women. Among its U.S. employees, just 4 percent of those lucrative positions are filled by black or Latino people. Data also shows the numbers aren’t much different at places like Facebook, Google and Yahoo. Even Apple, which can point to above-average diversity, still counts just 20 percent of its tech hires as female, and black or Latino workers make up only 13 percent.

Read on: How Diversity Is Becoming A Business Need

The gender diversity gap is common in countries like India as well, where data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) shows on average women in India earn 20% lower than men. The positive lining is that the gap has narrowed by 9.2% during the last ten years. Some companies are publishing data on the gender pay gap in their organization. These help sensitize people about the inequality prevalent across businesses and raise a strong cry for equal pay for equal work.

Sadly though, for every company that does disclose such data, there are so many that don’t, states by Anju Sethi, Head, Learning and Development, Tesco HSC. “The advantages that gender-diverse teams bring to a business are significant. A same-gender team is more likely to have perspectives that are way too similar, especially on gender issues. A board that is balanced across genders is more likely to sense potential opportunities as well as problems. 

A study by the consulting firm Caliper says women leaders have stronger interpersonal skills than their male counterparts, a trait that is helpful in most business situations. Ironically, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stated in her book: “Women are getting more and more of the graduate degrees, more and more of the undergraduate degrees, and it’s translating into more women in entry-level jobs, even more women in lower-level management. But there’s absolutely been no progress at the top.”

With regard to the lack of women in senior tech roles, Apple CEO Tim Cook regretably told Mashable in an interview, ”I think it’s our fault—’our’ meaning the whole tech community,” he told the publication. “I think in general we haven’t done enough to reach out and show young women that it’s cool to do it and how much fun it can be.”

He also suggested that an increase in diversity would translate directly into better hardware and software: “The most diverse group will produce the best product, I firmly believe that.”

Read more: IT Needs More Women In Tech Roles

The But as Vivian states, “We live in a deeply connected and global world, it should come as no surprise that more diverse companies and institutions are achieving better performance.

“Going beyond hiring diverse employees, companies should be attracting, developing, mentoring, sponsoring, and retaining the next generations of global leaders at all levels of organizations. “Given the higher returns that diversity is expected to bring, we believe it is better to invest now, since winners will pull further ahead and laggards will fall further behind,” he sums up.