A couple of weeks ago I did a post on the depiction of women in the social network and how that translated to women (or lack thereof) in Silicon Valley. Today, I am returning to that very same topic but unfortunately with worse news. A recent study () done by researchers at UC Davis found that of the 400 largest companies only 13 have female CEO’s. That’s about 3 percent. 3 percent. It’s mindboggling that with all the recent news on how more women are going to college and choosing professional careers that only 3 percent of women claim power positions in our country’s greatest companies.
What I want to focus on however, is the fact that in the tech industry (this includes hardware and software) only 20 percent of women hold directing power. Of the best known companies located in Silicon Valley (Yahoo, Google, Apple etc.) none of them had women amongst their highest paid employees. Combined with the numbers of actual women working in the tech startup of the world, it’s hard not to see Silicon Valley and its counterparts as a modern day boys club.
All of this data is coming out in light of recent news that two women will be succeeding Steven Sinofsky, former head of Microsoft’s Windows unit. This news was exciting for women advocates everywhere because for the first time the company was placing women at the head of their most commercial enterprise. This, similar to when Marissa Mayer became CEO of Yahoo, seems like a win.
With all this information, I find it hard not to be confused about the current position that women hold in the tech industry. On one hand there seems to be immense progress being made but then on the other hand there is disheartening information out there that only 18 percent of engineering graduates are women. Right now, the face of Silicon Valley is that of a white male in their mid 20s. However, that is changing. With women like Marissa Mayer making a difference and putting themselves in the public eye two things are happening. One, the gender inequality in the tech industry is being highlighted and younger girls are getting a role model.
While I don’t have the solution to end this inequality there are some things that can be done. First off, more women need to be highlighted for their achievement. It disappoints me that I would not have found the information about the Microsoft ladies if I hadn’t gone looking. Second, the tech industry needs to be more transparent with their hiring and promotion standards. It doesn’t matter how many women you have in a company, if none of them are being moved to executive positions then the progress is not continuous. Finally, the scrutiny and hate that comes with women who do choose to live their lives in the public eye (ie. Marissa Mayer) needs to be eradicated.