Twitter has a big diversity problem: 70% men, 59% white

Steven Loeb · July 24, 2014 · Short URL:

How does Twitter compare to Facebook, Google and Yahoo?

You may have already heard, but Silicon Valley has a diversity problem. And it’s a pretty big one at that. And yet, it seems to me that Twitter has become the scapegoat in some ways for that.

I hear all the time about Twitter being mostly white, and mostly men. Maybe that's because it took the company so long to finally appoint a woman to its board of directors, but is the company really any worse than any other? This is a deep-seated cultural problem in the tech world, and it is certainly not the fault of any one company. 

Still, Twitter is certainly part of the problem, as was highlighted by its first ever report on diversity, or lack thereof, in its ranks. We all knew what the result of the report would be; the only questions were going to be: how bad is it, and how does it compare to other tech companies?

Well, let's take a look. So far, the four companies to release such reports are FacebookYahooGoogle and, now, Twitter. So let's do a comparison and see where each one stands.


When it comes to the overall gender breakdown at each of these companies, Google and Twitter are tied for worst; both have 70% men, and only 30% women. Facebook is the smallest amount better, with 69% men and 31% female. 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. 

At Twitter, tech jobs are 90% taken up by men, and leadership jobs are 79% men. At Yahoo and Facebook, its 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 is 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.

So, yeah, it certainly looks like Twitter is worse than both Yahoo and Facebook when it comes to gender, but not by much.


So, we see that these companies are mostly male. Now let's see how white they are: Google is 61%, Twitter is 59%, Facebook is 59% and Yahoo is 50%.

Again, Google did not break any numbers down in terms of what kind of jobs the minorities at its company held, so only the other three can be scrutinized from here on out.

Tech jobs are Twitter are 58% white, 53% at Facebook and a mere 35% at Yahoo. As for leadership, Twitter is 72% white, Facebook is 74% and Yahoo is 78% (I love how one company can seem so progressive in one instance, than totally backwards in the next).

And now we come to the all important non-tech jobs: they are 60% white at Twitter,  and 63% at Facebook and Yahoo.

The biggest minority at every single one of these companies are Asians, and when you combine the white and Asian numbers together, the numbers become even more troubling: only 9% of the employees at Google and Facebook do not fall into one of these two groups. It's only 6% at Twitter, and 11% at Yahoo.

That obviously leaves Hispanics and African Americans really out in the cold. 

So how does Twitter rank here? The company is terrible, but still somehow mostly on par with its competitors. The only company to actually buck any trends is Yahoo, with its half minority workforce, and majority minority tech team. Still, the company falls completely flat when it comes to leadership positions. 

The conclusion here is obvious: no, Twitter does not deserve any additional scrutiny when it comes to diversity; it’s actually the other companies who are not being scrutinized enough. 

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.