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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Women in the Silicon Valley Workforce

Patrick Coutermarsh

Summary of a Business Ethics Partnership panel featuring Jennifer Gill Roberts,Kara Helander, and Ann Skeet

Gender Diversity in Silicon Valley Today

Last year, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter released statistics on their workforce diversity. At these companies, women hold only 16% of tech jobs.

The Ellen Pao discrimination case put Silicon Valley, particularly VC firms, under the microscope. Whether it will be a watershed moment for gender diversity is still up in the air. At a minimum, a record of more subtle forms of discrimination exists now in the form of the case's court record.

The Takeaways

Major challenges organizations face in achieving gender diversity include hidden bias, micro-aggressions, and leave policies that make sustained employment difficult for parents.

Providing training and workshops to employees is not enough. Organizations must complement employee support with proper processes and controls.

Diversity and inclusion will soon become a necessity, as both engineering talent becomes more scarce and communication between teams becomes even more paramount.


"The experience of a women in her early career is quite different from one on the back end of her career, yet we tend to clump the female experience into one category."

"As companies continue to shift to being solutions-based, connecting and giving a voice to all of their workforce will become even more important."

"No one person can solve gender discrimination, but everyone can do something."

Nov 29, 2015