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ACM TechNews

Silicon Valley Gender Gap Is Widening


Najla Bulous

Tech industry efforts to recruit people from underrepresented backgrounds are undermined by an unwelcoming culture, says Najla Bulous, a software engineer and daughter of immigrants.

Credit: Sean Fujiwara / USA Today

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has released a report warning that the gender gap in the technology sector is widening. "What we found is that not only are the numbers low, they are headed in the wrong direction," says AAUW's Catherine Hill. She says changes need to be made across the professional pipeline, from college curriculum to hiring and retention practices, in order to encourage more women to envision themselves as having a place in the tech sector.

The report found only 26 percent of computing professionals were women in 2013; this percentage was substantially lower than what it was 30 years ago. The numbers were even lower in engineering, where only 12 percent of working engineers were women. Women of color earned only 6 percent of computing and 3 percent of engineering bachelor's degrees in 2013, despite representing 18 percent of the college-aged demographic.

Leading Silicon Valley companies say only 20 percent or less of their technical staff are women, but women also are underrepresented in non-technical roles and rarely make it to the board room level of both major tech companies and startups. "I believe engineers and computer scientists are made, not born," Hill says. "It's a question of exposure and opportunity."

From USA Today
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