Diversity in major tech companies remains out of balance, according to recent statistics released by Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo! and Facebook.
Although Google is performing poorly in gender and ethnic diversity, the company was the first to provide any diversity reports earlier this month. The report has since sparked a trend among tech companies to boost the awareness of lacking employee diversity.
Gender imbalance is a tech issue
Facebook and Google perform significantly better in non-tech departments, even coming close to a 50-50 gender balance. However in tech-only areas the number of women drops even further from 30% down to 17% at Google and 15% at Facebook.
So far only three of the five tech giants have unveiled statistics on ethnic and gender diversity. Apple and Amazon, as well as other major employers such as Twitter and Ebay, are now under pressure to follow suit.
What are tech companies doing to improve the balance?
“We have a long way to go,” Facebook admits about its employee diversity, which is taking a range of measures to improve its poor diversity numbers. The social media platform announced it has teamed up with the National Center for Women & Information Technology and several other groups for women in programming.
Meanwhile, Google is training its staff to realise that part of the problem in diversity is psychological. „Research shows that when we are more aware of our unconscious bias, we can make more objective decisions,“ the company claims. Google has initiated company workshops to improve the perception of others within the company.
Speaking about the lack of awareness of prejudice, Vice President of Google Megan Smith told Fortune that the problem of bias is inherited.
It’s no one’s fault. It’s not like anybody is actively doing this. It’s just that we inherit it, we have it, it’s systemic.
Google has also openly spoken about the problem that its female employees are less likely to ask for raises then male counterparts, an issue which it has managed to improve by equally informing all employees about the opportunity of raises.
Diversity in Berlin’s tech scene
Several of Berlin’s tech employers have informed WebMagazin of the difficulties in seeking female developers. Berlin-based companies such as SoundCloud, Ableton, Home24 and Idealo are also facing up to the difficult task of achieving a gender balance in their technical departments. In contrast to Berlin’s developer teams, the HR departments in the local startup and tech scenes are typically female.
The popular mobile games startup Wooga, which employes over 250 individuals in Berlin, informed us that only 26% of its staff are women. In the engineering department, as little 10% of employees are female. Wooga spokesperson Greg Latham says diversity is an important goal for the company, whose employees are mostly from outside of Germany:
Unfortunately at the moment, our numbers only underline the point that the industry is currently very skewed towards men, especially in technology-focused positions such as engineering. But we also believe that can change. We do our best to make Wooga a friendly environment for women, which seems especially important given that a large percentage of our players are women.
SoundCloud told WebMagazin that in spite of the difficulties, its number of female developers is on the rise:
Finding the right person for the right job is challenging enough regardless of gender, but what we have noticed throughout our relatively short history is a steady increase in the quality and number of female candidates that apply for job postings, many of whom are women.
Next year, England will become the first country in the world to introduce coding as a compulsory school subject. IT specialists in Germany have long been fighting to introduce programming as a subject in German schools. The country’s IT branch has created 100,000 new developer jobs in the past five years alone, according to an industry study.
Feature image: Composition of various people working via Shutterstock / copyright: Ollyy