Tech Industry Still A Boys’ Club, Especially In Leadership Ranks

By Wendy Lee
San Francisco Chronicle.

Work wasn’t the same after tech consultant Roxane Divol returned from maternity leave. She no longer received the best assignments, especially those requiring travel, because her colleagues assumed she wanted to stay close to home because she had a child.

She confronted a senior male colleague, telling him to stop asking if she was okay and to help her tap into the best opportunities at the firm.

“I get it,” she recalled the male colleague saying. “I guess you are the man in your family.”

It’s the kind of sexism women still face daily as they push for equal representation in the workplace, especially in tech, which has specific and unusual gender problems. Female engineers represent a tiny minority at many companies, with even fewer women in the upper echelons of leadership.

A Chronicle analysis of the Bay Area’s top 15 publicly traded tech firms by workforce shows that only a handful have a significant number of female managers reporting directly to the CEO.

At several companies, women represented just 20 percent or less of a company’s executive team. The company with the highest percentage was Cisco Systems Inc. with women representing 36 percent of the executive team, while the lowest was Fremont-based Synnex Corp., which lists no women on its leadership team.

Studies have shown that companies with more women leaders have better financial results, experts said. Without more diversity, marketing campaigns can play to gender stereotypes, or products launch only taking into account a man’s perspective.

“Companies that do not utilize women in top management positions are really giving up 50 percent of the talent,” said Michalle Mor Barak, author of Managing Diversity: Toward a Globally Inclusive Workplace. Those firms “are not only not doing the right thing, but also harming themselves in the long run,” she said.

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