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Google admits company needs to improve gender, racial diversity

Google said 30 percent of its employees worldwide are women

Google has admitted it has far more white males among its workforce than women or people of color.

In a recent report, Google said 30 percent of its employees worldwide are women. In addition, 65 percent of its workers in the United States are white. It was also shown that blacks and Hispanics are 3 percent of Google’s technical staff. That includes such positions as coders, engineers or work in management positions. Also, 21 percent of women are in leadership positions at Google.

“Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity,” the company said in a blog post.

What are the causes of this lack of diversity? One issue is that only a small percentage of women and minorities in the United States graduate from colleges with computer science degrees, Laszlo Bock, senior vice president, People Operations at Google, said in the company blog post.

Women earn 18 percent of all computer science degrees in the United States. Black and Hispanic students earn 8 percent and 6 percent of computer science degrees respectively.

Google is not alone among Silicon Valley companies in having insufficient numbers of women among its ranks, according to a report from Think Progress.Between 1999 and 2012, the number of women in Silicon Valley’s top 10 tech companies fell 7 percent, according to Mother Jones. During the same time, the number of male employees increased seven points to 70 percent. In addition, the number of white employees jumped nearly 20 percent since 1999. There is a related issue that the cost of housing in Silicon Valley limits the ability of less affluent workers from locating there.

Google plans to recruit more at historically black colleges and universities, and encourage more women and minorities to study computer science. The company also recently placed Google engineer Charles Pratt at Howard University, where he changed the college’s introductory computer science curriculum.

Since 2010, Google has given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer science education to women and girls.

One person, Jess Hanta, commented on a blog post, the reason there are so few women in the tech industry is because of the “lack of female coding role models.”

“Honestly, I can’t think of a well-known modern day woman in the tech industry. With no modern day female tech role model, is it really likely for many young girls to be interested in the tech industry? Not really,” she said. If women in the “tech industry were to be portrayed in the same light as actresses and singers, I bet more girls would grow up saying, ‘I want to code for Google.’”

To help remedy the situation, Hanta has begun making YouTube videos focusing on beauty, fashion and technology.

On the other hand, another online comment was made by David Flores, who called the number of computer science majors “a vanity metric.”

“I would be more interested in learning about the percentage of [minority] … applicants [at] … Google and then the percentage that is offered a position. It would be interesting to know if Google is attracting the right number of candidates to begin with; and then, if they are offering jobs to the right people,” he added.

More generally, Strategy&, the consulting firm that used to be known as Booz & Co., said that only 3 percent of incoming CEOs in 2013 were women. The 3 percent figure is a 1.3 percentage point drop from 2012, InsideCounselreported.

Similarly, overall, only 16.9 percent of board seats were held by women in 2013, compared to 16.6 percent in 2012, InsideCounsel reported. When it comes to general counsel in corporate America, BarkerGilmore estimates that 21 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have women GCs. That is an increase of about 17 percent over the past five years, InsideCounselreported, and that number will likely increase over the next five years.

 

Further reading:

Sony’s general counsel Nicole Seligman named president of Sony Entertainment

Still a long way to go for women in the boardroom

Number of women CEOs remains low, but long-term outlook will improve

 

 

 

Contributing Author

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Ed Silverstein

Ed Silverstein is a veteran writer and editor for magazines, websites and newspapers. A graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, he has won several...

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