Today’s tech firms are often known for their “relaxed” culture, which presumably means they’re great places to work. Flip flops in the office, Hacky Sack in the hallways, nap pods, arcade machines, and free breakfast, lunch, and dinner are but a few of the many perks offered.
This, combined with great salaries and desirable work means, of course, that these jobs are hard to come by. (Google, for example, hires only about a quarter of a percent of those who apply.) But they’re even harder to come by for those who don’t fit a specific demographic.
Although tech companies are highly innovative in many respects, in others they’re not, particularly when it comes to diversity.
Statistics from CNET suggest that these companies may not be as forward thinking as some might assume. Women, for instance, are significantly underrepresented. Microsoft reports that they make up only 16.6 percent of its technical workforce (though about 29 percent overall), with similar figures for Google. At Twitter, the number is even lower, with women holding only 10 percent of these jobs. And for all three companies, women hold less than 25 percent of managerial and leadership roles.
“Ultimately, diversity as a whole is not impressive in the tech sector.”
Why is this?
exposure to computers as boys. This doesn’t necessarily mean that access is denied or discouraged, although in some instances it is, due to cultural norms and gender stereotypes. Girls also, for the same reasons, have less exposure to science and math in school, prerequisites for any geek career.
Blacks and Latinos are also underrepresented in the sector for similar reasons – less exposure – as is anyone over 30. But is the latter due to this as well? Maybe, but probably not. In this instance, it is more a matter of ageism.
Clearly, diversity as a whole is not impressive in the tech sector. And, as The Guardian pointed out, there seems to be a lack of minority tech-employment and entrepreneurship in the U.S. Ironically, some studies suggest startups that have a diverse staff fail less often and generate greater returns.
Perhaps calling specific companies out for their lack of diversity is premature when the problem is seemingly ubiquitous. Regardless, the solution may be to start people off young. Johnathan Holifield, vice president of inclusive competitiveness at The Guardian, shared his views on how to combat the diversity problem.
“If we want more diverse citizens to become tech-entrepreneurs, we should expose them to entrepreneurship at a young age,” said Holifield. “That exposure hasn’t happened to the degree it needs to happen.”
The lack of exposure to technology jobs and entrepreneurship for minorities is particularly relevant in big cities, where the largest minority populations reside. Fortunately businesses have started to make an effort to encourage diversity and entrepreneurship programs, to ensure this problem does not continue.