July 29, 2014
Silk, a platform that allows anyone to transform their content in an easily readable and more engaging format, has recently started compiling data on the women engineers in tech. With recent attempts by large tech companies like Google and Facebook to increase transparency about the number of women among their ranks, the project is an attempt to further highlight the need the issue of this lacking of diversity among various tech companies – looking specifically at women in software – and to look further into the reasons behind how to improve those numbers.
According to Alice Corona, a data journalist at Silk, this Women in Software Silk was self-initiated by the company. Utilizing data gathered from sources like Randy Olsen from the US Institute of Education Science, Tracy Chou (a software engineer at Pinterest), Crunchbase, AngelList, and others. Because of Silk’s simple engagement tools, users can easily sort through the data by various filters: industry (such as the gaming industry, computer software, financial services, and others), city, and type (nonprofit, privately held, or public).
Looking at the data on provided on the Silk, we can see that only 6.25 percent of all Github’s 160 software engineers are women. A few months ago, the company sparked greater scrutiny with regards to exploring the issues of sexism in the tech industry. When looking at the numbers themselves, it seems that even if sexism isn’t an issue, the lacking diversity can contribute to the continued perception of sexism.
There are a few takeaways that we can learn from looking at this data. Firstly, overall, full-time women software engineers are estimated to account for 15 percent of all engineers among these tech companies. Secondly, it seems that smaller companies have an advantage when it comes to numbers, with organizations like The Muse and Hackbright Academy having women dominating their engineering teams. Thirdly, at much larger companies, women don’t make more than one-quarter of the engineering staff; for example, Dropbox comes in at 6.29 percent, while Mozilla is at a slighter higher 8.6 percent. Lastly, from this data, 28 companies don’t have ANY women on their engineering teams (among 37Signals’s engineering staff of 20, none are women).
“I hope that this [Women in Software] Silk will grow over time and become a tool and a reliable resource journalist turn to when covering the issue of women in software,” said Corona. “I work as a data journalist at Silk specifically because I believe in the need to be transparent about data – whether in a journalistic article, in a NGO report or any other kind of information.”
The Women in Software Silk is an ongoing project and will continue to collect data from and on companies as that information becomes available. With more data, we are equipped with more knowledge on what aspects contribute to the low numbers of women in these roles. For example, we can get a better understanding on whether a pipeline problem actually exists, and that women just aren’t pursuing computer science programs in college. And, by using Silk as a platform for this data allows for this data to be more interactive and user-friendly than typical presentations of this information.
Take a look and explore the Women in Software Silk for yourself.
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