tech

More women in tech but not at the top

5 Comments
By Tom Finn

Technology firms are hiring more women and narrowing the gender gap, according to a poll by Europe's largest technology conference, but female leaders said the multi-trillion dollar industry was still failing to put them in its boardrooms.

A poll of 600 women in tech by the Web Summit showed nearly half, or 42%, believed gender ratios had improved in the last year. One in three were "unsure" if representation was better.

The findings from the conference suggest the sector is starting to respond to allegations last year of sexism at tech firms such as Facebook and walkouts by Google employees in response to claims of inequality and sexual misconduct.

"It's great to hear that women in tech feel that they are becoming better represented," said Winnie Lee, chief operating officer of Taiwanese artificial intelligence (AI) startup Appier.

Lee said both men and women needed to be involved in AI to make sure the technology is "applied in the most creative ways to benefit society".

About 70,000 people from 163 nations attended the conference, whose organizers said the number of women attendees had risen to about 46% from 25% in 2013, boosted by ticket discounts.

Other women tech leaders, though, were less sanguine.

"Yes there are more women in tech, but until women are around the table making decisions, it really doesn't matter that there are more of us," said Laurel Touby, who runs a New York-based venture capital fund, Supernode.

"When you have 30% representation by women, women start to feel comfortable enough to make themselves heard and to express their opinions. In tech we definitely haven't hit that percentage yet."

The tech sector has long come under scrutiny for inequality and for its "bro-gamer" culture, referring to men who play video games.

Global organizations including the United Nations have spoken out about under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

A 2016 report by the global consultancy McKinsey found women made up 37% of entry-level roles in technology, but only one in four senior management roles.

About half the women polled at the Web Summit believed their salaries were in line with those of their male counterparts, up from 37% in a similar study last year.

Nonetheless, four in 10 respondents agreed with the statement: "Many women are offered leadership roles just to fill quotas".

Boosting gender equality was a key theme at this year's Web Summit in Portugal, where company representatives spoke of training staff in unconscious bias, deleting sex from CVs, having women on all shortlists and improving maternity rights.

Even the resident robot was on message.

Asked by a journalist if she would like to inspire women in AI, Sonia, a social humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong based company Hanson Robotics, said: “Girls are one of the most valuable natural resources this planet has to offer being so full of potential, thinking brilliantly. And yet they are mistreated all over the world. There is definitely an apartheid of gender.”

© Thomson Reuters Foundation

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

5 Comments
Login to comment

There is definitely an apartheid of gender.

And sadly will stay the same as long as there are regimes and "religions" in this world that continue to look at women as second class citizens!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It'll take at least a generation to sort it out I reckon unfortunately

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Nonetheless, four in 10 respondents agreed with the statement: "Many women are offered leadership roles just to fill quotas".

At least people understand the reality of the situation. Just like Affirmative Action. It flies in the face of judging / rewarding someone on the basis of their ability / content of their character.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Boosting gender equality was a key theme at this year's Web Summit in Portugal, where company representatives spoke of training staff in unconscious bias, deleting sex from CVs, having women on all shortlists and improving maternity rights.

Delete sex from CV's will result in wasting the time of interviewers and interviewees alike. The company wants a man/woman for the job so they toss any application with a name that is obvious from the "wrong" gender group. If someone from the other gender group slips through, the do a short interview and blow them off. If they can't figure out which gender that person is, they play games like on the "What's that? It's Pat!" sketch on SNL.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Boosting gender equality was a key theme at this year's Web Summit in Portugal, where company representatives spoke of training staff in unconscious bias, deleting sex from CVs, having women on all shortlists and improving maternity rights.

Having women on all shortlists simply because they are women is pure sexism.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites