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Women continue to leave a hostile tech industry

11 Dec, 2014

According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, the already small percentage of women in technical positions in the high-tech industry is dropping, not climbing.

In an op-ed, former Wikimedia Foundation head Sue Gardner reported that “Multiple studies have found that the proportion of women in the tech workforce peaked in about 1989 and has been steadily dropping ever since.”

The reason is not about women wanting work-life balance or starting families or any of the other usual explanations. Instead, it’s the way women are treated in this particular industry.

Gardner conducted a survey and found that half the respondents said, “... they've been treated in a way they find hostile, demeaning or condescending, and a third said their bosses are friendlier and more supportive with their male colleagues.”

And, Gardner cited a 2008 Harvard Business Review study called The Athena Factor, which noted that, “Just as their male colleagues' careers are taking off, women's start to stall, with those who've reached the beginning ranks of management reporting feeling blocked in moving up because they don't have a mentor, a sponsor or a road map.”

Said Gardner, “Women who quit tech aren't fragile. I think they're fed up.” And, women who leave tech don’t retire or leave the workforce; they go into other, more welcoming, industries.

The tech industry, she said, is squandering talent. “A rational industry,” she wrote, “would shut down overt misogyny because in addition to being morally repugnant, it's terrible for business.”

Speed Matters supports gender rights and equality in the tech industry – and in every facet of American life.

Why women are leaving the tech industry in droves (LA Times op-ed, Dec. 5, 2014)


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