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Posted by on Apr 19, 2010 in Science & Technology | 0 comments

Tech Industry Still A Boys’ Club

The NYTimes has a major piece asking why so few women in the Silicon Valley workforce:

Tech communities in Silicon Valley and in other hubs — like New York, Austin, Tex., and Boston… — pride themselves on operating as raw meritocracies ready to embrace anyone with a good idea, regardless of education, age or station in life.

For women, though, that narrative often unfolds differently.

Women own 40 percent of the private businesses in the United States, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. But they create only 8 percent of the venture-backed tech start-ups, according to Astia, a nonprofit group that advises female entrepreneurs.

That disparity reaches beyond entrepreneurs. Women account for just 6 percent of the chief executives of the top 100 tech companies, and 22 percent of the software engineers at tech companies over all, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. And among venture capitalists, the population of financiers who control the purse strings for a majority of tech start-ups, just 14 percent are women, the National Venture Capital Association says.

That reality is even more complex when race is factored into the mix. Small percentages of workers in information technology are African-American, Asian or Hispanic, and that number is even smaller for women.

The article goes on to catalog the challenges women face in the tech industry (with loads of links to study findings) including discouragement from parents, underresourced teachers, their lack of interest, the engineering and computer scientist image problem, and male-dominated venture capital firms.

You will remember that back in February the San Jose Mercury News won an 18-month Freedom of Information battle against Google, Apple, Yahoo, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Applied Materials. Among the losing arguments, that the race and gender of the work force was a trade secret. The release of that data would cause “commercial harm” by potentially revealing the companies’ business strategy to competitors. One finding:

[A]mong the roughly 5,900 managers at those companies in 2005, about 300 were either black or Hispanic — a 20 percent dip from five years earlier. Women slipped to 26 percent of managers in 2005, from 28 percent in 2000.

SEE ALSO: Another NYTimes story, this one from February 2008, on a Pew report finding that girls lead boys significantly in content creation online across all categories except video (boys were almost twice as likely as girls to post video files). The question, then as now: what happens between then and the time they enter the workforce.

Continue the conversation @jwindish #TMVcomments, at my Public Notebook where comments are open, or email me at joe-AT-joewindish-DOT-com.

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