Google I/O developers conference hits diversity plateau

This year, more women than last year will attend Google’s I/O developers conference, which starts Wednesday in Mountain View. But that’s because the number of attendees will be higher – the percentage won’t change much.

That’s according to a newspaper report saying Google has for the first time released diversity data on I/O attendance. Women this year will make up 23 percent of attendees at the three-day event, according to USA Today. That’s nearly triple the percentage from 2013, and more than 40 percent higher than 2014, but the same as last year, the paper reported.

Google isn’t releasing attendance numbers, but last year more than 5,000 people were there, and the company says the audience will be 25 percent larger this year, according to USA Today.

The tech giant notched a slight increase in ethnic diversity over last year’s event, although whites will make up the same proportion as in 2015, 41 percent. Six percent of attendees this year will be Hispanic, up from 5 percent, and 30 percent will be Asian, up from 26 percent, the paper reported. From last year to this year, the percentage of black attendees has remained at 2 percent, the paper said.

The three-day I/O conference attracts software developers who work with Google platforms across a host of fields and business sectors.

Two years ago, in response to criticism that Google was largely white and male, the company began divulging the makeup of its workforce by ethnicity and gender. The firm admitted in its latest diversity report that “we’re still not where we want to be” but said openness about a lack of diversity was a step toward inclusiveness. Google’s latest diversity report shows it’s 70 percent male, 60 percent white, 31 percent Asian and only 2 percent black and 3 percent Hispanic.

The firm’s numbers for purely tech jobs suggest that efforts to promote diversity at I/O may be paying off: diversity at this conference for hardcore techies is somewhat higher than among the tech workforce at Google. On the tech side at the company, women make up only 18 percent of workers, blacks make up 1 percent and Hispanics 2 percent, while Asians make up 35 percent. Whites are 1 percent more scarce at 59 percent than in the workforce as a whole

Last year’s conference earned praise for Google over its diversity efforts. Three keynote speakers were female last year, while in 2013 there weren’t even conference T-shirts fitted for women, reported PCWorld. Also indicative of Google’s efforts to bring women to I/O were queues for women’s bathrooms, “a rarity at technology conferences,” PCWorld reported.

Photo: Google co-founder Larry Page at Google I/O 2013 in San Francisco (AP/Jeff Chiu)


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