Beyond the binary - Is sexism in IT as prevalent as ever?
by Marco Tapia
August 17, 2017
by Marco Tapia
August 17, 2017
|||Action is being taken, however, as James Damore was recently fired from his role as an engineer at Google for "perpetuating gender stereotypes," after stating in a company-wide memo that biological differences are one of the reasons for the gender gap in the technology sector and in leadership positions. Damore feels as though Google are quick to alienate any semblance of a conservative viewpoint, describing the metaphorical thought-prison as a “ideological echo chamber.” WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, sided with Damore by echoing his assertion that an open discourse is widely discouraged in multinational firms that affix a high degree of political correctness to their structure. Assange stated, “Women & men deserve respect. That includes not firing them for politely expressing ideas but rather arguing back”. Damore continued, “Google’s left bias has created a politically correct mono-culture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence” (5).This conflicting point of view does raise an interesting question as to whether intellectual diversity is being sacrificed in order to maintain the public image of tech giants? Only time will tell if the persistent focus on gender and ethnic diversity being the primary prerogative of senior management will adversely affect long-term profitability.If one thing is for sure regarding such a sensitive, yet prevalent topic, it’s that positive change must be instilled now to improve the future corporate climate. Recently, in the 2016 Federal Budget, the Australian government unveiled a $2.4 billion “Digital Education Revolution” to help Australian students bridge the digital literacy gap and create a culture of inclusiveness for school-aged children of all genders and backgrounds (6).The above initiative is a step in the right direction and should hopefully serve to increase the number of females currently entering into IT courses at university. Furthermore, this would eventually help to alleviate the current skills shortage the industry is facing.|||
|||At a corporate level, larger companies would greatly benefit from instilling empowered human resource teams that are employed to educate and not only handle the occasional crisis. It is also imperative that such firms implement forums whereby divergent opinions and political viewpoints can be shared in a safe and welcoming environment. Further to the above, strong diversity and inclusion initiatives such as explicit diversity goals, unconscious bias training, employee resource groups and bonuses for referrals of diverse candidates would also serve to speed up the healing process (7).The question at hand is whether substantial reform will actually be implemented and, if so, will these adequately address the disparities at the core of the IT industry in a manner that appeases both sexes.Marco|||
|||Marco Tapia is the founder and Managing Director of PicNet, A leading provider of IT services and solutions to Australian businesses - Click here to learn more.References & further reading: 1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinehoward/2016/06/06/the-worlds-most-powerful-women-in-tech/#a544ddc1ab212. http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/stereotype-threat-what-google-gender-manifesto-really-says-about-tech-industry-20170814-gxvmlq.html3. http://www.couriermail.com.au/rendezview/why-sexism-is-alive-and-well-in-2017/news-story/369197d0bd9250b9df010a3dddb30b2b4. http://www.alphr.com/technology/1000773/the-uncomfortable-truth-about-sexism-in-tech5. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/08/google-employee-fired-diversity-row-considers-legal-action-james-damore6. https://electronicsnews.com.au/opinion-the-one-woman-in-the-crowd-why-start-ups-seem-to-have-missed-the-point/7. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/27/tech-industry-sexism-racism-silicon-valley-study|||