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The Current Situation
There’s no doubt that there is a glaring gender gap in tech. The widely accepted number of jobs held by women in the industry is 30%, but when you look at the percentage of women actually filling engineering roles, that figure shrinks considerably.
Let’s take a look at some of the giants in tech. At both Facebook and Google, women make up around a third of the company’s payroll, but only 16% of technical jobs at Facebook and 18% at Google are held by female engineers. At Twitter, it’s only 10%. These figures are the norm across the industry – in Europe, only 7% of engineering jobs are held by women!
Now, this isn’t just a women’s issue, a corporate responsibility problem, or a diversity issue. This gap is hurting companies’ bottom-lines and is detrimental to the industry overall.
If you look at any number of metrics, a gender-balanced team outperforms a predominantly male or predominantly female team. The numbers show that gender diversity has big payoffs. Teams with at least one female executive tend to receive valuations that are 64% larger than companies that only have men in leadership positions.
As Toptal Co-Founder and COO Breanden Beneschott put it, “If men and women are equally intelligent, statistically speaking, then out of the smartest ten people in the world, five should be male and five should be female.” Therefore, “if your team is anything less than an equal balance of men and women, then your team is probably not the best it can be.”
What is being done to address this gender gap?
The good news is that leading tech companies agree on this and they’re launching initiatives to get more women into top engineering positions. The solution here is more complicated than just doubling down on recruitment efforts for female engineers, though. There simply aren’t enough female engineers in the job market right now. While there’s no one reason for this, Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani explained that popular culture has a lot to do with turning young women away from tech. Girls take cues from TV shows, fashion magazines, and social media that tech is a man’s domain and figure it’s not a path they should follow.
So companies are trying to get involved at the ground level, not just recruiting computer science graduates but also showing girls at a young age that they actively want them to enter STEM fields, both in the classroom and after they’ve received their diploma. Both Etsy and Intel partner with Girls Who Code and Girl Develop it to build a strong educational pipeline that supports aspiring female developers.
In October 2015, Toptal launched Toptal Scholarships for Female Developers, which will award 12 aspiring female engineers $5,000 and a year of one-on-one mentorship with a senior developer from the network. Toptal is encouraging girls of all ages and educational backgrounds to apply by making a meaningful contribution to open source and then writing a personal blog post about it. They’re announcing one winner per month for a year.
Through partnerships with educational organizations and the creation of mentorship programs, these companies are getting at the root of a systemic issue. There’s a long road to gender parity in tech, but they’re at the forefront of a solution that will bring more female engineers into the industry and give their companies a competitive edge.