#WITBragDay: The gender bug in the software industry

Updated - August 14, 2017 10:22 am IST

Published - August 13, 2017 05:48 pm IST

From board rooms to "brogrammers," men still dominate many corners of the tech industry, where the pantheon of famous founders - from Hewlett and Packard to Jobs to Zuckerberg - is still a boys’ bastion. "Sometimes it can be hard," said Yeung, 23, who also worked as a software engineer at a Silicon Valley startup.

From board rooms to "brogrammers," men still dominate many corners of the tech industry, where the pantheon of famous founders - from Hewlett and Packard to Jobs to Zuckerberg - is still a boys’ bastion. "Sometimes it can be hard," said Yeung, 23, who also worked as a software engineer at a Silicon Valley startup.

After facing a public backlash, Google fired the software engineer who had penned the controversial internal memo that questioned the company's efforts at randomizing the gender imbalance and adding greater diversity to its workforce. The memo, titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" drew the ire of colleagues, and others in the industry for the blatantly sexist and ill-founded remarks on how women are poorly represented in tech owing to biological inadequacies that hold them back from being intellectually competent to deal with the stress of writing code.

The errant employee, James Damore, was subsequently taken off the rolls of the California based technology major, with Sundar Pichai, the chief executive, denouncing the views expounded in the internal communication that has now been circulated widely. Mr. Pichai reiterated Google's commitment to hiring and promoting women and minorities, adding that the much maligned memo had violated the company's code of conduct “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

However, this doesn't take away from the fact that women continue to be underrepresented in tech jobs, not just in Google, but all across Silicon Valley, America's hotbed of innovation. The radio-cab aggregator, Uber, which was in the news for its toxic workplace culture, had to terminate over 20 employees after an internal investigation found evidence of sexual harassment and discrimination.

 

Google and Microsoft fare the worst when it comes to gender diversity in the workplace, with Cupertino-based Apple, Facebook, and Ebay doing marginally better. Only 19% of the engineers on Google's tech team are women, as compared to 23% at Apple, and 24% at Ebay and Pay Pal. The disparity lingers even in management positions, but the gulf between the sexes is less pronounced in the board room.

Pay Pal had the most gender-neutral workplace with 44% women employees, followed by Ebay and Amazon, where women make up for 43% and 39% respectively of the total workforce. However, tech still continues to be a male-dominated field.

The memo which went viral, prompted a flurry of angry tweets from netizens who took to social media to express their displeasure at how one of the world's leading tech companies turned a blind eye to sexism in the workspace. The #WITBragDay hashtag, which is trending on Twitter, celebrates the achievements of women in technology, from Ada Lovelace to the African-American women protagonists of the Oscar nominated movie, Hidden Figures , whose contributions to NASA's space programme went largely unacknowledged.

Female professionals have also tweeted out against the gender bias and the misconception that it is biology, and not discriminatory practices that have accentuated the divide between the sexes in tech jobs.

Here are some of the best tweets on #WITBragDay to remind you that tech is an equitable domain irrespective of gender.

 

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