In Silicon Valley, this is normal

Technology's emphasis on hiring for cultural fit may be more harm than help, as recent revelations seem to indicate

In Silicon Valley, this is normal
pite an emphasis on being at the forefront of technology and development, it seems Silicon Valley is in the past when it comes to gender diversity. A comparison of publicly traded companies on the S&P 100 and Silicon Valley 150 (SV 150) indexes revealed:
  • The SV 150 has less than half the number of female board members as S&P 100: 9.1% vs 19.9%.
  • 43% of SV 150 companies do not have a single female director, versus 2% of S&P 100
Wendy Wallbridge, who writes and speaks on the topic of women in leadership, is organizing a conference on International Women’s Day to address the issue. She believes Silicon Valley’s emphasis on hiring for cultural fit is one of the subtle factors that contribute to the inequality.

“There’s biases that live in the cultures of our organizations that look for people that look like the people at the top,” she says. “If we keep going on what we are as a culture and hiring to that, it’s going to be a slow road to gender equality because organizations were started by men for men.”

One company that appears to struggle to recruit and retain women is Dropbox, a cloud storage firm in San Francisco. As of October last year, just nine of the company’s 143 engineers were female, a figure about half the national average of 12%.

Three anonymous female employees made accusations against Dropbox last month in the Washington Post, one stating: “When I interviewed for Dropbox, I was interviewed in a room called ‘The Break-up Room,’ by a male. It was right next to a room called the ‘Bromance Chamber.’ It felt weird I would be interviewed in such a strangely named conference room.” She said that “every time the company holds an all hands ‘goals’ meeting, the only people who talk are men. There are no females in leadership. The highest ranking is a team lead on the User Ops team.”

Dropbox did not respond to requests for comment, and no one has yet gathered any clear evidence of the truth of the claims.

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