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Intel will spend $300 million on diversity in tech

The company says it plans to have "full representation" of women and minorities by 2020

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
January 7, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3b33

In 2014, there were a series of unfortunate incidents that exposed the deep-seated sexism running through Silicon Valley. Add to that a number of diversity reports exposing just how non-diverse the tech world is, in terms of both race and gender, and it became painfully obvious that something had to be done.

Now at least one company is planning to do just that.

At the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich not only acknowledged the issue of diversity in the industry, but outlined a big plan to spend a huge chunk of change in order to help solve it.

The company announced that it will invest $300 million to "build a pipeline of female and under-represented engineers and computer scientists." Will also actively support hiring and retaining more women and under-represented minorities, and it will use the money in order to fund programs that "support more positive representation within the technology and gaming industries."

Intel also revealed its plan to fund programs that celebrate diversity, including the International Game Developers Association, the E-Sports League, the National Center for Women in Technology, the CyberSmile Foundation, the Feminist Frequency, and Rainbow PUSH.

And, finally, Krzanich said Intel plans to go deeper in its engagement in education, specifically with computer science and engineering programs at higher education institutions, including minority-serving institutions. 

Ultimately, Krzanich's goal is to have Intel achieve "full representation" by 2020, meaning that it will not only have more women and minorities, but also have more representation in its leadership positions as well.

“We’re calling on our industry to again make the seemingly impossible possible by making a commitment to real change and clarity in our goals,” said Krzanich. “Without a workforce that more closely mirrors the population, we are missing opportunities, including not understanding and designing for our own customers.”

Silicon Valley has a big problem

In October, Facebook, Box and Pinterest announced that they had gotten together to launch a new mentorship program called WEST (Women Entering and Staying in Tech). The idea is to get more women interested in computer science, and to help them be prepared for the tech jobs of the future.

WEST will feature women who have technical jobs at all three companies, who will serve as one-on-one mentors. They will meet with mentees individually and as a group, in-person and online, over the course of a year. The program will officially launch in pilot mode this year.

That came in response to what could only be described as a particularly bad year for women in tech, with CEOs and co-founders of various companies having found themselves caught up in scandals, usually involving misogyny or sexual harassment of some kind.

There was the sexual harassment claim made against GitHub, which forced the resignation of co-founder and former CEO Tom Preston-Werner. There was also RadiumOne CEO Gurbaksh Chahal who was forced out by the company's board of directors after he pled guilty to two misdemeanors for domestic violence and battery, paying a $500 fine after he was caught, on videotape, beating his girlfriend 117 times.

Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam resigned his position after he made a series of tasteless annotations to the text to the manifesto left behind by Elliot Rodger, the man who shot and injured 13 people, while killing seven others, including himself, in Santa Barbara. One of the notes made reference to Rodger's supposedly “smokin’ hot" sister who, according to Moghadam, must have played a part in him wanting to kill a bunch of people.

And who could forget the leaked e-mails from Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel from his time in college, in which he refers to women as "bitches" and "sluts." One sample e-mail read, "“LUAU FUCKING RAGED. Thanks to all of you. Hope at least six girl [sic] sucked your dicks last night. Cuz that didn’t happen for me.” Signed affectionately, “fuckbitchesgetleid. Spiegel.”

Diversity in Silicon Valley

Not to mention all of the diversity reports from companies like Yahoo, Google, Twitter and Facebook that all showed how big the gender gap is.

When it comes to the overall gender breakdown at big tech companies, Google and Twitter were tied for worst, with both having 70% men, and only 30% women. Facebook was just the tiniest amount better, with 69% men and 31% female employees.

The best of all of them is Yahoo, with 62% men, and 37% women. That's still a paltry number, but it would likely be even worse if the company did not have a female CEO.

All of the companies, except Google, broke down their numbers by type of job, and that's where it becomes even more depressing. Part of the problem with the gender gap in Silicon Valley is not just the number of women who work for these companies, but the types of jobs they have. And that is what WEST is looking to address. 

At Twitter, tech jobs are 90% taken up by men, and leadership jobs are 79% men. At Yahoo and Facebook, it’s a just little bit better: tech jobs are 85% men, and leadership is made up 77% men.

The only place where women have any kind of parity is in what are called "non-tech" jobs, and even there they are barely a majority. At Twitter, its split down the middle; at Yahoo is 52% women and at Facebook its still 53% men.

As depressing as all of that is, at least it seems to be leading toward open acknowledgement and a real effort by some of the major companies to really do something about it. 

(Image source: laramedia.com)


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