Academic journal article Competition Forum

Exploring the Gender Gap in Tech Companies: Why Aren't There More Women?

Academic journal article Competition Forum

Exploring the Gender Gap in Tech Companies: Why Aren't There More Women?

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Diversity in the tech industry is an increasingly hot topic among CEOs, employees, and the boards of directors. As a result, most companies have adopted strategies to track and remedy diversity problems and inclusion issues and display transparency of initiatives by publishing diversity profiles and policies (Kannan, n.d.). In spite of these initiatives, representation of women in US tech companies only reaches about 25% of employees while women represent approximately 51% of the working population (Scott, Kapor, Klein, & Onavakpuri, 2017). Although the world is rapidly changing, women still experience many difficulties in obtaining positions and promotions in tech companies. There are many suggestions or observations as to why this disparity occurs as will be examined. This issue has importance because it is evident that the products of those employees working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs are rapidly increasing in importance and have drastically altered the way we approach certain activities, including the way we communicate with people all over the world. It seems appropriate that a group who represents more than half of the working population should participate fully in activities of such importance.

IMPACT OF THE LACK OF DIVERSITY IN THE TECH INDUSTRY

Statistical evidence exists to support the observation that in spite of their skills and abilities, women are still underrepresented in tech companies mainly in engineering, executive, and investor roles. Well-known companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Intel, Pinterest, and other big Silicon Valley companies have adopted policies requiring release of their diversity statistics. For example, Google's diversity report indicates that their workforce consists of 70% males and 30% females highlighting the lack of female representation (Kinicki & Fugate, 2018). Other big Silicon Valley companies mimic these inequities which indirectly reinforce a toxic workplace culture where women are targeted with negativity and contribute to a gender gap in both hiring and compensation (Scott et al, 2017). Furthermore, discrimination is the main factor that plays into women's decision-making about leaving a company. Women frequently cite discrimination related to their age, race, or sexual orientation as a main factor in their leaving (Marcus, 2015). This creates a spiral effect where women do not feel welcome, lack support, and subsequently leave their organization or industry, further exacerbating the lack of diversity and related issues.

Another issue related to the lack of female representation is the prevalence of workplace aggression, including bullying and workplace harassment. According to Patricia Garcia, who surveyed more than 200 women working in tech companies that had at least 10 years of experience, the majority of whom were from Silicon Valley companies, 60% of women reported unwanted sexual advances and 65% of them had received those advances from superiors at work. Additionally, 90% of women witnessed harassment at company offsite programs or at conferences (Garcia, 2016). In aggregate, these issues reinforce a toxic culture that negatively affects performance, confidence, and risk-taking behaviors in both the women who are targeted and those who witness the negative behaviors, including male employees. In fact, studies show that employees who witnessed aggressive behaviors, despite not being the target, felt a stronger urge to quit than the targeted victim (Wall, Smith, & Nodoushani, 2018), which demonstrates the spiraling impact that a lack of diversity can have on a company's success. Even without the diversity discrepancy, women are more frequently bullied than men, with as much as 62% of aggressors being men and 58% of victims being women (Kane, 2013). Negative workplace environments have resulted in increased levels of anxiety and anxious behavior among all victims but are more prevalently reported among women. …

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