The Key to Achieving Gender Equality in Tech
In 1995, pioneering computer scientist Anita Borg challenged the tech community to a moonshot: equal representation of women in tech by 2020. Twenty-five years later, we’re still far from that goal. In 2018, fewer than 30% of the employees in tech’s biggest companies and 20% of faculty in university computer science departments were women.
On Women’s Equality Day in 2020, it’s appropriate to revisit Borg’s moonshot challenge. Today, awareness of the gender diversity problem in tech has increased, and professional development programs have improved women’s skills and opportunities. But special programs and “fixing women” by improving their skills have not been enough. By and large, the tech field doesn’t need to fix women. It needs to fix itself.
As former head of a national supercomputer center and a data scientist, I know that cultural change is hard but not impossible. It requires organizations to prioritize and promote material, not symbolic, change. It requires sustained effort and shifts of power to include more diverse players. Intentional strategies to promote openness, ensure equity, diversify leadership, and measure success can work. I’ve seen it happen.