Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Does this chart prove the tech industry's lack of diversity?

Twitter's forthcoming IPO has drawn critical attention to its male-dominated board. Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance, recently complained about the lack of women in Twitter’s top ranks. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo responded in childish fashion, tweeting that “Vivek Wadhwa is the Carrot Top of academic sources” and that Wadhwa had a “propensity for silly hyperbole”.

Source: Twitter CEO hits back at gender bias rap (New York Post, 7 October 2013)

Clearly, Twitter is not an isolated case: many commentators have pointed out that this is a more general problem. For example, ValleyWag prints a chart of the corporate boards of the top 17 tech companies, created by Gawker's @JimCookeIII and @NitashaTiku, The Boards Are All White: Charting Diversity Among Tech Directors via @HuffPostTech

But hold on. These are not the top 17 tech companies in the world. They are not even the top 17 tech companies in the USA. Notable omissions from Gawker's list are HP and IBM (which happen to have female CEOs), and Intel (which has a female president). Here is Wikipedia's list of the largest information technology companies (retrieved 9 October 2013).

Obviously a few women in high places doesn't make the problem of gender imbalance disappear. But it really doesn't help the cause of diversity to airbrush out those women who have made it to the top of the tech ladder.

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