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Workforce Planning and Management

Women Engineers Are Still A Rarity

Recently there’s been a spate of tech companies releasing information on the diversity (or lack thereof) of their workforces. The average male to female ratio at the likes of Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest is around 2:1, give or take a few percentage points. But when you drill to actual tech roles that number drops significantly.

Just 10% of the roles at Twitter are filled by women, while at Facebook and Yahoo! the figures rise to 15%. Google (17%) and LinkedIn (17%) fair little better, while Pinterest is the runaway leader with a male to female ratio of ever-so-slightly-better-than-5:1 in tech roles.

It’s an issue that Pinterest’s Tracy Chou has taken to heart. “In raw numbers, are there actually more technical women in industry now than before? Is the percentage of women in engineering going up? What’s working? Is anything? Does anybody know?” she asks in a Medium post. To help bring clarity to an issue often full of estimates, she’s created a spreadsheet on Github where companies can reveal the numbers of women, and male to female ratio of their engineers. So what do the numbers look like? Not great.

The page has data on 6598 engineers from 170 companies including the likes of Mozilla, Qualcomm, Dropbox and Flickr. Of those 6000-odd engineers, just 996 are women, and the average engineering team is just 15% female. So by those low standards, Pinterest (as well as Google & LinkedIn to a lesser extent) is ahead of the game and both Facebook and Yahoo! are average yet Twitter is still way behind.

Startups Leading The Way

The numbers vary wildly from large companies to tiny startups. Of the 12 companies with more than 100 engineers, the percentage of female engineers within teams drops to 12%. ThoughtWork’s 1425 engineers boast an almost respectable 24% of women amongst their ranks, while the 271 engineers in Qualcomm’s Austin office are just 6% female.

There are 64 startups with 10 or less engineers also on the list, totalling 335 engineers - 22% of which are women. While that’s a much better average, the numbers do vary by a large margin - three have all women teams while 18 have an entirely male engineering team.

Finding out why there’s such an imbalance in so many companies is another story altogether, but shedding some light on the problem is best way to start.

 

 

 

 

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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