It’s no surprise that the various ecommerce, tech and software development companies are dominated by one particular group of individuals. If you guessed either, “men,” “whites,” or “white men,” congratulations – you just predicted the majority of the work force in Silicon Valley. But like I said – the skew in employment that seems to favor white males in tech and ecommerce companies is not news. We’ve seen the reports charting racial and gender discrepancies in the tech world for some time. Somehow despite the fact that Whites account for 62.6% of the US population, they seem to occupy roughly 80% of the STEM work force.
So when eBay released a report boasting a “Stronger, Better, More Diverse eBay,” I was hopeful. As a young woman in an
ecommerce company, it thrilled me to hear that our leaders in this industry were making strides toward true gender equality. After reading the report, I discovered these strides were more like baby steps, and this new “diverse eBay” was apparently just a start. At first glance, the numbers don’t look that bad – 58% of eBay’s workforce is male, while the other 42% is female. A 16% margin doesn’t sound terrible (in fact, it sounds refreshing), but upon closer inspection, those percentages aren’t a true representation of what’s going on at the ecommerce powerhouse. Of that 42%, only 28% of women hold a position of leadership, while men still dominate decision-making boards at 72%.
“But why is 28% so bad?” The inadequacy of that percent isn’t due to the fact that I, a woman, would like to see more women in positions of power – that’s not my message here today at all. The inadequacy of that number actually stems from a strategic and true monetary need to have more women in leadership positions at tech companies. You see, the gender discrepancy in Silicon Valley isn’t only a diversity issue – it’s an economical one. Women are the majority of tech consumers, and we need women contributing to product development, engineering and decision-making. It’s proven that companies with women in leadership seems to have better financial statements – it’s in the numbers. The need for STEM jobs is only growing, and there aren’t enough computer science grads to fill every job opening. Bottom line, we need to recruit the other half of the population that today only accounts for a third of the industry’s work force.
Bridging the gender gap is a matter of corporate success. “Where’s the proof?” Well, the proof is in your hands – Snapchat. Once considered an app strictly for sexting and other lewd interactions, its success in reaching a broader (and less brazen) crowd is in part due to women who adapted it for their own needs. Studies conducted by the University of Michigan and Cornell University found that “companies with more gender diversity delivered better results from IPOs by as much as 30%.” Likewise, the London School of Economics completed a study that found that “women-led startups failed less often than men.”
We live in a world where the need for tablets, devices, online innovations and tech we still can’t dream of has gained speed. How will we sustain this need if only 50% of the population is expected to represent the 100%? Answer: We can’t. To be fair, change cannot happen overnight. Truly, I understand this. And in that respect, maybe eBay’s diversity numbers aren’t all that bad. But in 2014, where women account for half the population, are the majority of tech consumers, are needed to build apps that women would actually use, and lead companies to proven success – 28% isn’t “good” either. It’s a start…with high hopes for much more in the near future.
Dockterman, Eliana. “Imagine If Half of All Tech Inventions and Start-Ups Came From Women.” Time. Time, 29 May 2014. Web. 06 Aug. 2014.