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In Tech Workplaces, Less Diversity Than Supply Predicts

Yahoo and LinkedIn recently joined Google in releasing workplace diversity reports, which showed familiar trends. As LinkedIn put it: “in terms of overall diversity, we have some work to do.”

This lackluster diversity stems in part from an uneven professional pipeline. Recognizing this, each company has made special efforts to hire and retain a more diverse workforce. LinkedIn partners with groups such as Year Up, “an organization that seeks to close the Opportunity Divide,” and sponsors the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Yahoo was named “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.”

These efforts are important, but the professional pipeline’s diameter does not fully account for its leaks. Google’s 17% women in technical roles almost matches the 18% of computer science degrees earned, but at Yahoo women fill only 15% of technical roles – reaching only 83% of capacity. A self-reported study of over 160 startups, 93% of which had under 100 engineers, found an overall 13% of women in engineering roles.1 Compared to these numbers, Google is relatively diverse.

Google’s relative success may be accounted for by their focus on training to combat unconscious bias:

In 2013, more than 20,000 Googlers (nearly half of our Googlers) engaged in workshops that focus on the science of how the brain works. This created a company-wide dialogue around how unconscious bias can affect perceptions of others, interactions with coworkers and clients, and the business overall.

A Google study on women who choose CS found that social encouragement, self-perception, academic exposure, and career perception are the main factors that drive women into computer science. Recently, Google demonstrated that it is willing to act on these findings, investing $50 million in Made with Code, an initiative to foster interest and improve representation of coders with young girls.


1. ^ Excluding ThoughtWorks, a software consulting company.

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