Gender gaps at tech companies in focus on Ada Lovelace Day

11 Oct 2016

Working life. Image: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock looks at a number of major tech companies as the battle to narrow the gender gap in the workforce continues to take priority on Ada Lovelace day.

Hundreds of years after Ada Lovelace’s birth, the world is only recently coming around to celebrating her impact on modern society. Widely regarded as the world’s first ‘computer programmer’, Lovelace’s fingerprints are all over the modern, digital age.

The daughter of renowned poet Lord Byron, Londoner Lovelace was born in 1815 and quite quickly excelled at maths.

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Ada Lovelace Day

Working with famed inventor Charles Babbage, occasionally referred to as the father of the computer due to his work on the difference engine, Lovelace’s translation of some of his work lead to some early programming language.

She received little fanfare during her life, but as computers and their importance continued to prove stronger and more obvious, Lovelace has been celebrated to a greater degree – often as a way of highlighting the female impact on programming.

Here we look at some of the major tech companies operating around the world, and how they’re trying to narrow the gender gap in their workforces.

The Accenture diversity report for 2015 appears to show, overall, that the company is doing significantly better than many tech companies, with 35.8pc of its employees being women.

Looking at an executive level, its breakdown on gender lines appears to be relatively similar to non-executive roles, with women taking 31.3pc of executive-level roles. However, a considerable majority of its executives are white (63.3pc).

The latest Intel diversity report shows an increase in the number of women and minorities in employment, but not as big an increase as would have been hoped. Last year, Intel announced a $300m fund to tackle its diversity problem, with company CEO Brian Krzanich describing it as a “bold statement” at the time.

Intel’s 2015 report showed women globally made up 51.9pc of its non-technical workforce, and 20.3pc of its technical workforce. With more detail in its US operations, females represented 24.8pc, up an impressive 5.4pc on 2014. The US technical workforce stood at 20.1pc female, up 5.8pc on 2014.

However, its overall representation of women among its US staff has increased by only 0.6pc in the past year, while the number of women in its newest recruits has actually fallen by 0.1pc since 2015.

Apple’s global workforce currently consists of 32pc women, up 1pc on last year. Women hold 23pc of technical positions – up 1pc from a year ago – and 28pc of leadership positions.

Apple also said in its annual diversity and inclusion report that it had closed pay gaps over the last year.

“Women now comprise 31pc of all Googlers, and we’ve seen strong growth of women in technical and leadership roles,” said Google in this summer’s report.

“Similar to last year, one in five of our technical hires in 2015 were women, helping bring the total number of women in technical roles from 18pc to 19pc. Additionally, women now hold 24pc of leadership roles across Google—up from 22pc.”

In July, Facebook issued a ‘diversity update’ that showed gradual improvements in hiring and retention scenarios at the company.

In the US, 27pc of leadership roles are currently taken up by women. However, hiring rates were at 29pc in the past year which brought that original 27pc up from 23pc a year previously.

Globally, 33pc of Facebook’s entire operation is made up of women, one of the higher figures in the tech industry.

39pc of Amazon’s overall employees and 24pc of its management workforce are female. “A review of the compensation awarded in 2015 at Amazon – including both base and stock – resulted in women earning 99.9 cents for every dollar that men earn in the same jobs,” said the company.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic