Women and Tech

By Laura Colby | Bloomberg.com

Silicon Valley takes pride in its progressive views on climate change, same-sex marriage, transgender rights and other cultural issues. So why does it have such trouble with gender equality? Women are underrepresented in the U.S. technology industry and hold disproportionately fewer tech-related jobs throughout the developed world. Allegations of bias have pushed some companies to promise improvements, and some high-profile executives have been shown the door. Progress has been slow, however, and in some areas the situation has gotten worse: Women hold about 26 percent of computer and mathematical jobs in the U.S. today, slightly below the level in 1960.

Women increasingly are speaking out about what they see as a hostile culture. Some complain of unconscious bias: Managers don’t view them as leadership material, for example, and informal “buddy networks” that benefit male peers often exclude them. Others say discrimination is more overt and that they’re subject to demeaning comments, questions about their personal lives and unwanted sexual advances. A former software engineer at online ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc. claimed in a 2017 blog post that her boss had propositioned her — and that higher-ups ignored her complaints. Investigations resulted in the resignation of the co-founder and chief executive officer, Travis Kalanick, and calls for numerous policy changes. Venture capitalist Ellen Pao sparked a national debate when her gender discrimination lawsuit against a former employer, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, went to trial in 2015. (She lost.) A campaign of harassment against female video-game developers was exposed in a 2014 scandal dubbed Gamergate. Some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies years ago acknowledged a gender-disparity problem and announced steps to improve family-leave, hiring, pay and training policies. Apple Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. have committed to hiring more women and publishing data to track the changes. The latest results from Apple: Women held 23 percent of technical jobs by mid-2016, up from 20 percent in 2014. Read the rest of the article