Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, last year women made up only 26% of the computing workforce. The tech industry is a lot of things, but inclusive certainly isn't one of them (yet). With big-box brands like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo! (which employ women at a rate of 30%, 31%, and 37%, respectively) finally opening up about just how male-skewed their workforces are, it seems like major change could be on the horizon. But, what exactly can they do to improve things right now?
The New York Times has some ideas that are definitely worth considering. On top of the management training and community outreach that many companies have put in place, they suggest having a presence at universities beyond old standbys like Stanford and U.C. Berkeley — and, instead of focusing solely on candidates with computer science degrees, looking for an eclectic mix of grads.
Also, tech companies should seek to expand the number of women not just in departments like engineering, but across the board. Take Google: According to the demographic breakdown released earlier this year, women hold 48% of its non-tech jobs, and only 17% of its engineers are female.
Another obvious but often overlooked strategy? Make the workplace itself more welcoming to women. A 2008 report found that women in tech-related jobs often quit (twice as often as men) because of the pressure and hostile environment.
While these are certainly steps in the right direction, we think it would be wise to take a look at the venture capitalist world, too. Many VC firms don't openly release their numbers — which might be because they're even more depressing than you might have imagined. According to a study by Babson College, of the 542 partner-level VCs at the top 92 firms, only 23 are women. (That's less than 5%.) What's more, only 2.7% of the 6,517 companies that received venture funding from 2011 to 2013 had women CEOs.
In other words, it's a self-perpetuating cycle. If there were more women working at companies like Google or dominating the VC arena, perhaps they’d be more likely to hire female engineers or sign on new start-ups and companies with women leads. Here's hoping that happens sooner rather than later.