I’m An Ex-Google Woman Tech Leader And I’m Sick Of Our Approach To Diversity!
Vidya Narayanan
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You seem to imply that somehow pipeline problem is being ignored. In my workplace, no one has ever ignored the pipeline problem but the existence of a pipeline problem does not excuse the gender bias problem on the workplace level. It’s easy so say look there! (at the pipeline) so you don’t have to correct your own bias. According to studies cited below women are not immune to gender bias against women either.

There is significant gender bias in the work place. Studies have shown heavy bias towards choosing men over women with identical experience and credentials. Women are perceived as less competent and less mentorable and deserving or lesser pay than men with identical resumes.

And it’s not just the resumes. You’d think, if only hiring managers could see men and women in action on the job, they would definitely be able to make objective decisions on who should be hired. And you’d be wrong. In 1970s women comprised only 5% of top US orchestras. Women were widely considered inferior musicians — not as highly skilled, not as competent, not as in control. During orchestra auditions candidates play their instrument on front of the hiring committee so they can be seen and heard on the job in action. After blind auditions were introduced, the percentage of women in orchestras went up to 30%+. So as a woman you can be every bit as good as a man on the job or better but you will be perceived as performing worse due to pervasive subconscious bias. Women are subjected to much higher standards than men at work.

Addressing this difference in standards we apply to men and women is what diversity initiatives in the workplace are all about. There’s a gender bias problem to fix at every level: from how kids of different genders are raised to educational pipeline to workplace. Every level needs to address its bias so a meaningful difference can be seen overall. But saying don’t look here in the workplace, look at the pipeline is absolutely the wrong message to send.

Execs at my workplace came out and said we can’t be expected to hire a greater proportion of female engineers than the pipeline allows so far but we’re going to do our damn best to be on par with market availability of diverse talent. If market pipeline carries 20% female engineers, that’s the number we’re striving for inside the organization. We’re not going to let female engineers fall through the cracks of subconscious bias and double standards in hiring and promotion.

I hope you will reconsider your thoughts on this topic.

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