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Girls Who Code CEO on women in tech: We're not getting hired, or supported

Emily McCormick
·Reporter
·3 min read
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When it comes to getting women into technology roles, the issue is no longer a shortage of skills, but a lack of commitment to hiring and retaining female talent, according to the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code.

"I used to think it was a pipeline problem," Reshma Saujani told Yahoo Finance Live. "Ten years ago when I started Girls Who Code, I heard from tech CEOs, 'I want to hire women. I want to hire people of color. I just can't find them.'"

"If you look at computer science classes, across the country, you're now seeing almost 35% to 40% of the graduates are women. So it's no longer a pipeline problem," she added. "Yet, women are still not getting hired, or when they are, they're not getting supported."

While women account for about half of the overall labor force in the U.S., they comprise less than one-third of the tech computing workforce, and an even smaller proportion of tech executive roles, according to recent data from McKinsey. And based on a 2020 report from consulting firm Accenture and Girls Who Code, half of young women entering tech jobs will leave before the age of 35, primarily due to non-inclusive company cultures.

"There's a huge attrition problem that we have to solve, and that's a culture problem. Women are not supported. People of color are not supported. All nerds are not welcome in Silicon Valley," Saujani said. "That's the work that we have to focus on now."

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27:  Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code accepts the Diversity Advocate Award onstage at the 34th Annual Walter Kaitz Foundation Fundraising Dinner at Marriot Marquis Times Square on September 27, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for The Walter Kaitz Foundation)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27: Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code accepts the Diversity Advocate Award onstage at the 34th Annual Walter Kaitz Foundation Fundraising Dinner at Marriot Marquis Times Square on September 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for The Walter Kaitz Foundation)

The onus is on technology companies themselves to set and meet goals for their own workforces to achieve gender parity, Saujani said.

Many Big Tech companies have been releasing annual diversity reports for the last several years, but the needle has hardly moved in raising the proportion of women at many of these corporations. The percentage of women in Google's (GOOGL) workforce ticked up to just 32.0% in 2020 from 30.6% in 2014. At Facebook (FB), the percentage rose from 31% to 37% between 2014 and 2020.

Others, however, have set quantifiable goals for workplace diversity. Twitter (TWTR), for instance, said it aims to have women make up 50% of its global workforce by 2025, and underrepresented minorities account for 25%. Women comprised 42.6% of that company's headcount in 2020, but still composed just 25.8% of technical roles.

"We have to treat talent the way that we treat football teams, which is, we have to go out there and look for it, find it, and have real numbers for success," Saujani said.

"What I want to have tech CEOs have is real goals. We will get to gender parity by X year by doing Y things. And we as a society need to hold them accountable for it. Too much is at stake," she added. "We're never going to solve cancer, climate, or even COVID, if we don't have women and people of color sitting around the table. It matters too much."

Celebrate Women's History Month
Celebrate Women's History Month.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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