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Gender Bias: Is Your IT Group Guilty?
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Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
8/11/2014 | 11:55:27 AM
Tech Co vs. Tech Department
I wonder if there are discernable differences if you work at a technology company (which focuses exclusively on tech -- such as a developer or integrator) vs. working in the tech department of a different type of business (such as healthcare, retail, or education)?
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
8/11/2014 | 5:51:29 PM
Re: Gender Bias
Thanks for this, Susan. I think we can glean a lot from the information you've shared, if we're willing to read into it a little. The fact that all three of the acts you list reiterate that it's illegal to retaliate to discrimination complaints, for example, is very telling. It really only needs to be on one law to make it illegal, but that says that it needed some tweaking to get it right... and maybe that employers were dancing around it before. You shared a statistic just the other week Susan that Discrimination cases are found in favor of the employee only about 30% of the time - because it's hard to prove. The same thing applies to the retaliation aspect, and it can also be subtle.  Just because you fired someone after they complained about discrimination doesn't mean that's why you fired them.

The stats from the companies are also a little surprising, but maybe that shows some of my own Gender Bias, thinking that certain companies would or wouldn't be closer to 50/50. Salesforce and VMWare are among the lowest which is maybe not that surprising - discrimination is bound to be worst when it comes to sales and hard-business oriented jobs. On the other hand, I would have thought the all-mighty Google and Facebook would have done a lot better. They talk a lot about their proactive approach to hiring - but maybe this shows that some of that is just talk. Thanks for sharing.
zaious
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zaious,
User Rank: Ninja
8/11/2014 | 11:55:35 PM
Re: Gender Bias
The numbers are, well, surprising. I felt there is a bias, but these numbers are not what I expected. Anyway, there are changes taking place. I hope every deserving person will claim the right position or job.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
8/12/2014 | 10:02:44 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
@Alison_Diana, that's a great question. And I suppose you're thinking that discrimination/bias would be more prevalent in tech firms and less so in other sectors?
Jeff Jerome
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Jeff Jerome,
User Rank: Ninja
8/12/2014 | 10:48:56 PM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
Alison - Good statement and relevant.  And I would also add the point of view that hiring is also a numbers game.  I would be interested in knowing what the ratios are for men/women applying for tech jobs?  If this is a pure numbers game and let's assume for the moment that more men apply for jobs then the ratio would be higher for men in tech jobs.  However that does not account for actual discriminatory hiring practices and the associated behavior.  I would also add that as more women than men are staying in college and getting a higher level of education then we should see this shift based on qualification and roles.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
8/13/2014 | 7:37:24 AM
Re: Gender Bias
I agree, getting the right person in the position is key.  When I have job openings the response rate is overwhelmingly male, this last time it was 100% male.  I feel that this lessens my selection pool and would love to see some more diversity between the candidates.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
8/13/2014 | 9:52:16 AM
Re: Gender Bias
Apple announced its employee mix today (or yesterday) and it's more of the same, unfortunately. On the plus side, Tim Cook stated it's a priority for him to improve the diversity mix at Apple. In reporting on this issue for years, I've discovered that companies which really emphasize and support diversity do a good job of meeting that goal. IBM, for example, has a rich heritage in supporting women across technology and business roles, and has a much higher mix of women and non-white males in its staff and management. EMC also has a big, ongoing diversity initiative. 

In both these companies' cases, they have a high-level exec whose sole responsibility is to improve hiring and retention of a diverse workforce, and that includes making sure diverse employees have the resources and support they need once they enter the workforce at this business. IBM, for example, has many groups for women, women of color, Hispanics, etc., leveraging perhaps its global presence. The company supports women in tech organizations, such as Anita Borg, financially and through participation in events.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
8/13/2014 | 9:55:34 AM
Re: Tech Co vs. Tech Department
In covering this topic for years across multiple publications, I'd say there's a lot of truth to the idea more white men apply for technology jobs than other people. It's one reason so many tech and non-tech businesses are getting involved with improving STEM's image for young girls, teens, and college students. It's a reason i believe it's so important to encourage more women engineering teachers, female or diverse physics professors, etc. I just read a USA Today article on Girls Who Code; it included a young Hispanic girl's quote, where she said she could never have envisioned herself working at a Facebook or Google until she met a Hispanic woman who is a tech professional at a startup. Girls need role models in this field; thankfully, lots of men and women across all backgrounds and ethnicities are realizing this and investing money and time to make this less rare.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
8/13/2014 | 9:59:28 AM
Re: Gender Bias
Some businesses have found the best way to increase the diversity of applicants is to broaden the way in which they reach out to prospective employees, working with groups that support women in tech, minorities in tech, etc., to get their openings out to a much wider base. That doesn't always work, of course, and time sometimes is of the essence. 
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
8/13/2014 | 10:01:41 AM
Take the Diversity Test
You can examine your own diversity awareness and any bias, courtesy of a free series of online tests developed by Project Implicit, a non-profit developed by three university scientists to "foster dissemination and application of implicit social cognition." The president of the Society for Women Engineers passed along this test to me in 2013, and many find it very eye-opening.
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