Google has promised to do all it can to recruit more women into Silicon Valley, and now the company is putting its money where its PR is. On Thursday, it launched a $50 million initiative to teach young girls how to code.
Just last month, Google announced that only 17% of its tech employees are women. The gender disparity is a dire issue for all tech companies. There will be 1.4 million computing jobs available in 2020, but only 400,000 computer-science graduates from U.S. universities to fill them. Part of the problem is that only 12% of computer-science degrees go to women, and in order for Silicon Valley to survive and thrive, it must be able to recruit more engineering talent from the other 50% of the population.
“Coding is a fundamental skill that’s going to be a part of almost everything,” Megan Smith, VP of Google[x], tells TIME. “So for kids to really at a minimum just be able to express themselves in code and make things and feel confident, that would be important — no matter what their career is.”
Google has invested a lot more than just money in the project. The company conducted research to determine why girls are opting out of learning how to code: the number of female computer-science majors has dropped dramatically since 1984, when 37% of computer-science degrees went to women. How do we get them back into computer-science classrooms?
Google found that most girls decide before they even enter college whether they want to learn to code — so the tech world must win them over them at a young age. They also found that there were four major factors that determined whether girls opted into computer science: social encouragement, self-perception, academic exposure and career perception. Continue reading “Google vs the gender gap”
At Pinterest, the four-year-old online bulletin board service that is valued near $3.8 billion, some 70 percent of the users are female.
But, as Reuters reports, the company’s board of directors is 100 percent male:
“Male-heavy boards dominate in the start-up mecca of Silicon Valley, which prides itself on progressive thinking and putting talent first. A Reuters survey of the 10 top venture-backed start-ups, as measured by venture funds raised, shows that six do not have any women on the board, including Pinterest. And none has more than one.
“Reuters’ research relied on publicly available data and discussions with start-up executives and board members.
“The gender imbalance has been the norm for years despite some recent signs of change. Google, Facebook and Twitter all went public without a woman on the board. They are more diverse now.
“Big, established companies, by contrast, frequently have two or more female directors, based on the 10 largest U.S. tech companies by market value. All of the top 20 have at least one. The dismal record of start-ups when it comes to gender diversity was highlighted last month when Twitter came under fire for its all-male board on the eve of its public offering. On Thursday, the company announced that it had added former Pearson chief Marjorie Scardino to its board. Entrepreneurs and executives contacted by Reuters did not question the conclusion that there are few women directors at start-ups, but they frequently described it as unintended, and some such as Pinterest say their executive ranks are more balanced. Start-ups tend to blame the lack of women on their boards on factors such as their youth, their small boards, their single-minded focus on growth to the exclusion of other priorities, and a scarcity of women steeped in technology. Continue reading “Men rule in Silicon Valley”
There are signs that immigrants’ influence in the U.S. tech industry may be plateauing, as reported in a recent study by AnnaLee Saxenian of Berkeley and Vivek Wadhwa of Duke. Slate reports that the researchers found “that 43.9 percent of Silicon Valley startups launched in the past seven years had at least one key founder who was an immigrant. That’s a big number, but it’s a drop from 2005, when 52.4 percent of startups were immigrant-founded.
“The composition of immigrants in the Valley has shifted a bit, too. In Saxenian and Wadhwa’s ranking of countries that produced the most U.S.-based techies, Taiwan fell from fourth to 23rd. (The reasons for that drop—and the decline of immigrant-founders across the board—can be attributed in part to U.S. visa issues and burgeoning opportunities abroad.) At the same time, though, some tech insiders have seen Latin American-born entrepreneurs, a previously invisible cohort, begin to make their presence known in Silicon Valley. Continue reading “Immigrant numbers shifting in tech”