Women in tech: one look at the numbers

When it comes to female engineers in tech, Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou says “the actual numbers I’ve seen and experienced in industry are far lower than anybody is willing to admit.” She’s backing that up by sharing those numbers on a public Google spreadsheet.

There are no giant companies such as Googles or Facebooks on the list — and remember, the big companies have fought efforts to publicly disclose race and gender statistics — but there is data for some well-known companies including Mozilla, Reddit, Activision, Qualcomm and more.

In a post on Medium, Chou writes: “While companies do talk about their initiatives to make the work environment more female-friendly, or to encourage more women to go into or stay in computing, there’s no way of judging whether they’re successful or worth mimicking, because there are no success metrics attached to any of them.”

So she collected her own. The data includes information submitted by other tech workers, which she is soliciting. Some notable numbers: On average, 12.6 percent of engineers — those “who are writing or architecting software,” and are employed full time — in tech companies are female. Well-known companies that have numbers that are above the average include Pinterest (13.33 percent, or 14 out of 105 engineers), Khan Academy (25 percent) and Medium (23.81 percent). some of those with numbers below the average: Mozilla (8.6 percent), Yahoo-owned Flickr (9.52 percent) and Activision (3.33 percent).

How to solve the problem of the tech industry’s dearth of female engineers? In her post, Chou says transparency is a start: “As an engineer and someone who’s had ‘data-driven design’ browbeaten into me by Silicon Valley, I can’t imagine trying to solve a problem where the real metrics, the ones we’re setting our goals against, are obfuscated.”

(HT to Quartz)


Photo: Marissa Mayer is a famous female software engineer in the tech industry, but many lament the shortage of other women in the field. (NBC/Associated Press archives)


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