Silicon Valley Leaders Discuss ‘Watershed Year’ For Women In Tech

By Queenie Wong
Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) From digging deeper into data to hiring more women leaders, tech firms including Google, eBay and PayPal are exploring different ways to make their workplaces more inclusive.

SAN FRANCISCO

Silicon Valley technology firms faced a reckoning this year as women spoke up about sexual harassment in the workplace, leading to the resignations of prominent venture capitalists and chief executives.

The upheaval in tech has mirrored the disruption in Hollywood, the news media and on Capitol Hill as people have shared their accounts of being sexually harassed.

“It’s been a watershed year for reasons we’re not all proud of,” said Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, founder of theBoardlist, which aims to bring more women onto company boards. “When people spoke up, there were repercussions and there was the loss of power and the loss of reputation.”

Entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, advocates and other leaders gathered Tuesday at The Atlantic’s Inclusion in Tech conference to discuss the lack of diversity that has long plagued the tech industry.

From digging deeper into data to hiring more women leaders, tech firms including Google, eBay and PayPal are exploring different ways to make their workplaces more inclusive.

But one thing was clear: Diversifying Silicon Valley’s workforce is a complex issue.

“This isn’t a killer app,” said Damien Hooper-Campbell, eBay’s chief diversity officer during a panel. “There is no one quick solution that’s going to solve this overnight. It’s going to be a journey.”

Meanwhile, diversity data released by the companies don’t always paint a complete picture. And in the tech industry, there’s still a perception that the best workers will simply rise to the top.

“There’s some skepticism around the numbers because it feels like companies are really using them as a PR move,” said Tracy Chou, co-founder for Project Include and a software engineer who has worked for Pinterest and Quora.
Tech firms, for example, don’t release data about the retention of minority workers.

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