The workforce demographics of Silicon Valley startups

When it comes to Silicon Valley diversity figures, the focus has been on the large companies, the giants who define this tech era.

But what about the Googles and Facebooks of the future?

In a recent column, I said Silicon Valley can be thought of as one company with a Facebook division, Google department and of course, a startup wing.

Tracy Chou, a Pinterest engineer, has called on tech workers to report the demographics of their firms’ engineers, which she is continually updating here.

So far, women make up on average 16 percent of engineers at the 170 firms, many of them startups, that Chou has gathered data on.

Today, Polyvore, a Mountain View-based online retail startup with 113 employees, released its workforce demographics.

Run by Jess Lee, a former Google product manager (pictured above), Polyvore has some interesting stats:

Women make up 26 percent of the engineering staff, 39 percent of the product and engineering workers and 67 percent of the firm’s leadership.

In a blog post, Lee says something that many readers have told me. As important it is for companies and outside observers to look at the number of women and minorities hired, it’s equally important to look at what happens once they are in the door:

Many companies focus on increasing diversity at the front of the hiring pipeline. I think it’s equally important to think about what happens *after* people join a company. I believe one of the best ways to cultivate diversity in tech is to cultivate meritocracy. Simply put, people should be rewarded based on the merit of their work, regardless of their gender, race, age or tenure.

Above: Jess Lee, co founder and chief executive of Polyvore.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 

Share this Post



 
 
 
  • RegularGuy55

    Don’t talk about ‘demographics’ unless you intend to include AGE. Silicon Valley companies simply don’t hire older workers. I watched the Polyvore video, and I doubt if I saw more than 2-3 people on the other side of 40 years old.

    Supposedly, we have age discrimination employment laws in this country, along with ones that apply to race, ethnicity and gender.

    How about it SV? Would you like to share AGE-related demographics with us?

    • advocatus diaboli

      No, they would not.

    • BobH

      That is exactly right. You should get the companies to report not only how many employees are over 40, but how many _engineers_ they’ve hired in the last three or four years who are over 30, 35, 40, 50, etc. I think employees with a long work history are automatically rejected as not likely to fit in.

  • Karen

    Age is an issue. It really doesn’t matter how good you are, unless you have very extraordinary skills or specialized knowledge — stuff that you can’t learn at a continuing ed course — AND you know somebody in the company, it’s tough for an older worker to get hired in Silicon Valley. My husband fought this battle in his late 40s (!). A friend of mine is fighting it in his 60s. He simply can’t afford to retire, with a large extended family forever in various stages of financial crisis. He’s very good at what he does, has excellent work habits, top-quality employee… but he’s not a superstar.

  • Karen

    Age is an issue. It really doesn’t matter how good you are, unless you have very extraordinary skills or specialized knowledge — stuff that you can’t learn at a continuing ed course — AND you know somebody in the company, it’s tough for an older worker to get hired in Silicon Valley. My husband fought this battle in his late 40s (!). A friend of mine is fighting it in his 60s. He simply can’t afford to retire, with a large extended family forever in various stages of financial crisis. He’s very good at what he does, has excellent work habits, top-quality employee… but he’s not a superstar.

  • Karen

    I was an engineer in SV for two decades, and had to abandon that career because the extra pressure of working in a female-hostile environment mixed badly with ongoing mental health issues. According to my employers, I was damn good at what I did. But the constant discounting, being unable to talk in a meeting without interruption, always being treated as an afterthought, having my work passed off as my manager’s… it all got to me.

    Stronger women can, and do, deal with it, but a lot of women like me drop out. There will be no meritocracy in SV until the culture changes so women are treated like real human beings.

 
 
css.php