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Google's gender ratios show that it is hardly delivering on promises of inclusion

Only one-fifth of Google's tech workforce is made up of women.


An “anti-diversity manifesto” penned by a Google employee has taken the internet world by storm. While the 10-page document titled Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber reeks of white-dude conservatism, there’s no denying that it has let many skeletons out of the closet. One, it has exposed the disturbingly narrow mindset of white, male employees – the dominant workforce at Google. Two, it has brought to light Google’s “diversity initiatives” which sounds great on paper. But reveals gaping voids if scrutinized. Three, it hints that despite having the might to do whatever it wants, Google is doing little to bridge the gender gap.

Sure, the Silicon Valley giant has ensured that it is now employing more mixed race people – 35 percent of its workforce is now Asian, 10 percent are Hispanics and Blacks – but when it comes to gender, Google has done precious little to bridge the disparity. We looked at the 2017 Google Diversity Report which breaks down the  company’s workforce demographic. Less than a third (31 percent) of Google’s overall workforce is female. According to Statista, Google employed about 72,000 people until 2016.

Google Diversity 2017


This means that the female workforce has gone up by a paltry 1 percent since 2014 when it stood at 30 percent.

Google Diversity 2014

Google said on its official blog then: “We’ve always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google. We now realize we were wrong, and that it’s time to be candid about the issues. Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity, and it’s hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts.” ALSO READ: Google executive’s anti-diversity ‘manifesto’ leaked, creates a storm in the company

It’s great that Google has identified gender gap as an “issue” and a “challenge”. However, its failure to address that, even after three years, is intriguing. Obviously, there has been the token female appointment for head of Google Diversity, but that’s about it. If we look at female participation in leadership positions at Google, it’s even more bleak. Only a fourth (25 percent) of Google’s top management is made up of women.

Google Diversity 3By Google’s own admission, that is a 1 percent increase from last year. A couple of years ago the company had blamed it on the lack of CS (computer science) grads in the US. Only 18 percent of girls were earning CS degrees it said, and out of that, very few could make it to the top. The explosive employee document reveals: At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership…  Women on average are more prone to anxiety. Make tech and leadership less stressful.” 

If we were to disregard the gap in leadership positions and look at across-the-pyramid stats, only one-fifth (20 percent) of ‘tech’ positions go to women. Incidentally, Google is known as a ‘technology’ company.

Google Diversity 4In contrast, nearly half of the ‘non-tech’ workforce constitutes of women. Non-tech sees the most equal (48:52) gender representation at Google, thus reasserting stereotypes that women are more suited for ‘softer’ people-oriented roles like human resources, marketing, communication, CSR, etc. as opposed to ‘hardcore’ tech jobs like coding, engineering, product development and so on. 

google diversity 5In 2015, over 500 Googlers had participated in Diversity Core, a formal program to raise awareness about “unconscious bias” in the organization. The year before, Google had been partnering with Hollywood to inspire more girls to take up computer science. Since 2010, the search giant has given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring CS education to women and girls. But ‘girls-who-code’ has remained just a catchphrase even after two decades of Google’s existence. Its own skewed tech workforce is nothing short of embarrassing. ALSO READ: Uber CEO orders ‘urgent’ probe after ex-employee alleges sexual harassment, gender bias at company

In addition to employing far lesser women, Google is also underpaying them. In April, the US Department of Labor accused the company of “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.” The DoL stated that it had received “compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women” in the most common positions at Google. The company, however, denied allegations of gender pay gap. “Every year, we do a comprehensive and robust analysis of pay across genders and we have found no gender pay gap,” Google said in a statement. Strangely, it refused to part with wage data saying it was too expensive and logistically cumbersome.

Google’s newly appointed VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance, Danielle Brown, is doing her bit to control the damage. In a response to the now-viral manifesto, she wrote to Google employees: “We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.”  Well, until the gender ratios improve, it’s difficult to buy theories of inclusion!

  • Published Date: August 7, 2017 11:08 AM IST