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by Derek Loosvelt | March 23, 2016


A new study by McKinsey and unsurprisingly shows that women are still severely underrepresented at tech firms throughout the country and that the (few) women already at tech firms believe their gender is holding them back from promotions.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the study's findings and included some pretty graphs and tables and whatnot. In any case, here's the gist of the quantitative results:

Researchers found that women make up 36.8% of entry-level workers in tech; in other industries, women account for nearly half of entry-level workers …
Some 29.9% of female tech employees polled said they felt gender played a role in their missing a promotion or raise, and 37.1% of female tech employees said they felt their gender would disadvantage them in the future. In nontech fields, a smaller share of women—21.6% and 22.8% respectively—felt that way.

Most interesting in the Journal's piece are the two tactics that a few very large and prestigious tech firms are using to try to hire more women (one tactic oddly comes from perhaps the most un-female-friendly organization on the planet).

Facebook Inc. and Pinterest Inc. have tried out an approach known as the Rooney Rule, which requires that at least one woman or underrepresented minority be interviewed for open jobs. The Rooney rule was born in the National Football League as a way to ensure that teams interviewed minority candidates for head-coaching jobs.
Cisco is ensuring that job candidates encounter at least one interviewer of their same gender or ethnicity, a practice that has resulted in a roughly 50% increase in the odds a woman will be hired for a given position, said Ruba Borno, a Cisco vice president and chief of staff to Chief Executive Chuck Robbins.

Incidentally, two days ago, the NFL indicated that it's going to start using the Rooney Rule to not only hire more minority head coaches but also to hire more women in front offices across the league.

In any case, while it's encouraging that tech firms are using the aforementioned tactics to increase female headcount and are succeeding somewhat, it's also discouraging that tech firms still have to force themselves to use special tactics to hire more women. That is, it's discouraging that there's still such an innate gender bias in Silicon Valley.

You would think that all the innovation and forward-thinking that supposedly runs through the veins of the country's largest tech firms would spread to the openness of these firms' cultures and hiring processes. However, again and again, in study after study, in anecdote and after anecdote, this has proven not to be the case. Instead, when it comes to female diversity, Silicon Valley has proven to be no better (or no worse) than other U.S. industries, including traditionally male-dominated industries like Wall Street.

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