Backstory: Calculating The Gender Gap in The Technology Sector

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Facebook employees work in the design studio at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California March 2, 2012.
Facebook employees work in the design studio at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California March 2, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
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By Lauren Young
NEW YORK

As she reported on sexual harassment issues at big companies, Jennifer Saba, a Breakingviews columnist, looked for a concrete way to quantify the gender gap in the technology sector

Saba decided to focus on Facebook , Google and Apple since all of the Silicon Valley companies have a predominately male workforce and publish reams of data on hiring practices.

 

Twitter employee Amber Costa works on a computer at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco
Twitter employee Amber Costa works on a computer at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

 

That data is at the core of the latest Breakingviews calculator, which crunches the numbers and finds that it could take nearly a decade or longer to reach gender parity at Facebook, Google and Apple.

Users can input data on their employers to see how long it would take for women to make up half of a company’s workforce.

 

People pose with mobile devices in front of projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken in Zenica
People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

 

Since 2012, Breakingviews has created more than 40 calculators, looking at such topics as the true cost of Brexit and how much bond investors would lose as interest rates rose.

Working with U.S. editor John Foley and graphics editor Vincent Flasseur, Saba reached out to the three companies to understand the factors behind a male-dominated workforce.

Since the companies would not divulge employee turnover, Saba used a baseline assumption of 20 percent, broadly in line with the technology industry. She also looked at current female workforce, female new hires and workforce annual growth.

 

 

“Simplicity makes it sharp,” Saba said.

The calculator demonstrated that at Apple and Google it would take 14 and 15 years, respectively, for women to comprise half the workforce. At Facebook, it would take seven years.

“All three companies have such an incredible impact in the world, yet they have a dearth of women employees,” Saba said. “A company should reflect its customer, at the very least.”

 

(Reporting by Lauren Young)