The question that immediately comes into my mind when I read articles such as this one is
Have gender bias reduction initiatives actually been less successful in tech than other industries? If so, why?
I don’t have the answer to that question but I would love to read some articles grounded in solid data which do.
I’m unsure whether the vast majority of commentary circulating at the moment in response to Greathouse’s article is contributing a great deal to resolving the issue. Though it raises awareness which is of course required for change, every single person in tech I’ve spoken to is abundantly aware that women are disproportionately represented in technology companies, even if these same people sadly aren’t doing anything about it. We need more than stats which demonstrate the problem; we need answers.
I do applaud this article for forwarding some solutions. I’ve read far too many articles in response to Greathouse’s article which are merely restating the problem. To add another point to the suggestions made here, I think it’s important to recognise that for change to occur it needs widespread support at all levels – exec level and beyond.
One of the problems I see in many articles is the data. It’s too easy to just grab some percentages about male vs female distribution and leave it at that. The truth is that many tech execs have come through the ranks and come from software engineering team backgrounds and I think it’s at these lower levels where we might find one of the heads of this hydra. I’ve not seen it so far, but I’d be very interested to see some data about the demand amongst females for entry-to-mid level jobs in tech, and the use of this data to examine whether there is a lack of appetite to even enter the industry. If many females are either unable to get these roles due to hiring bias amongst the team leads, or are put off even applying by the perception of the industry as being a male dominated and gender-bias industry, then we need to target both hiring practices and perceptions. We need data to guide us in our attempts to fix things, and we need solutions that aren’t just cases of ‘easier said than done’.
I don’t doubt there are unfair gender based upward mobility barriers which need to be broken, but if there are further barriers at the ‘front gates’ we need to break these down as well to allow more women into these roles so that their contributions can be recognised in the first place.