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New report shows it could take 12 years to reach equal representation of women in tech

Like many industries, tech is still struggling when it comes to gender diversity. Overall, women technologists make up 28.8% of the tech workforce today. Though this number is a steady increase from 25.9% in 2018 and 26.2% in 2019, data from AnitaB.org, a global organization for women technologists, shows that if numbers continue to increase at the current pace, it could take 12 years before women see equal representation in tech. 



a person sitting at a table using a laptop: Just one in eight start-up CEOs are women and the most highly compensated executive roles continue to be dominated by men.


© Provided by CNBC
Just one in eight start-up CEOs are women and the most highly compensated executive roles continue to be dominated by men.

This data is found in AnitaB.org’s 10th annual report titled Top Companies for Women Technologists. Known as the only benchmarking report that looks specifically at technical employees and the progress companies are making toward equity, AnitaB.org breaks down not only the overall representation of women in tech, but also highlights what organizations are moving in the right direction and what programs and policies these organizations have in place to foster a growing female workforce. 

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After collecting and analyzing data on over a half million U.S. technologists from 51 participating companies, AnitaB.org sorted companies into the categories of small, medium and large, based on the size of their tech workforce, rather than the size of their overall company. For small companies with a tech workforce of less than 1,000 people, AnitaB.org found that an average of 30.2% of those employees are women. For medium companies with a tech workforce of 1,000-10,000 people, an average of 29.6% employees are women, and for large companies with a tech workforce of more than 10,000, an average of 27% employees are women. 



a woman sitting at a desk in front of a laptop computer: Two women working on a computer.


© Provided by CNBC
Two women working on a computer.

It’s notable that many of today’s biggest tech companies like Facebook, Netflix and Google did not participate in AnitaB.org’s survey, which scored companies based on career level representation of women, and hiring, advancement and retention of women. The survey also scored companies based on policies and programs that promote equity like caregiver leave, flex time, gender pay equity and leadership development. 

To come up with the winners for the small, medium and large company categories, AnitaB.org named the companies that scored in the top 25th percentile of each category as leaders. For small firms, 10 companies participated, and PepsiCo, The New York Times and ThoughtWorks were ranked as leaders after receiving high scores for female representation as well as policies and programs that support women workers. For the medium category, 30 companies participated, with Airbnb, Morgan Stanley, Ultimate Software and four other companies being named as leaders. And for the large category, 11 companies participated, with Accenture, ADP and Capital One being named as leaders.

Brenda Darden Wilkerson, president and CEO of AnitaB.org, says that though she is very proud of the progress this year’s report shows in terms of growing representation for women in tech, there is still a lot more work that needs to be done, especially when it comes to representation for women of color. 

According to the report, 14.1% of the tech workforce today is White women, 9.6% is Asian women, 2.2% is Black women and 1.7% is Latinx women. When looking at board representation, 29.8% of board members are women, with just 6.6% of these women being women of color.

To change these numbers, Wilkerson says companies need to not only diversify the places in which they’re looking for new hires, but they need to also break away from the idea of “tokenism.”

“When the numbers are really small, that means they’re hiring really small,” she says in regards to a company’s lack of women of color. “So, let’s really have a conversation about getting out of looking around and only seeing one Black person or one Latinx person and really think differently.”

This approach to “thinking differently” Wilkerson says, starts at the top with company leaders having conversations where they are forced to rethink “what is normal to them.”

“I think the reason why we’ve seen a jump this year in the percentage increase of women [overall] — though not as much yet in the ethnicity population — is because we’re forcing [companies] to think about it,” she says. “And I personally am very optimistic that these changes will become more prevalent for Black and Brown people.” 

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