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Whither Diversity?

June 18, 2014

I’ve long been a proponent of women in the tech workforce.  When I do my work in tech education, I like to see more women/girls getting into technology… mostly because more girls being interested in technology means that more boys will be interested in technology.

But filling the front-end of the pipeline doesn’t necessarily mean results immediately, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee any results.  Check out Yahoo, for instance:

The Purple Palace published the report online on Tuesday, breaking down its employees along both gender and ethnicity lines in its tech, non-tech and leadership divisions.

Much like Google, Yahoo! has fielded a workforce which is, by and large, male and either white or Asian. The company reported that its global operation was 85 per cent male in tech positions and 15 per cent female. Women accounted for a larger share of non-tech positions, with 52 per cent of roles.

If you haven’t seen the Google numbers:

The numbers at Yahoo! bear a striking resemblance to those at Google, which claims that men account for 70 per cent of its total workforce and 79 per cent of leadership roles. Much like Yahoo!, Google counts most of its female employees in administrative “non-tech” job categories.

The utopia of tech HR departments is a workforce that mirrors the world.  Well, go check the schools.  That’s not going to happen anytime soon.  The fallback is that the company matches the tech profiles of IT graduates, which is also a far cry from reality.  Getting a degree doesn’t appear to mean that you actually work in the field, and the field itself certainly doesn’t match what’s already in the workforce.

So, I’d expect that plenty of people will continue to look for solutions. The answer is to take the long view, and to keep tracking.  While results aren’t soon, they’re growing from where they were years ago.  But to that point, we in tech have a responsibility to drive the point harder to the places where decisions are being made.  If we catch kids in middle school, they’re more likely to at least start down the path.  Then it’s up to us to keep them on it.

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