...You can replace a few words in an argument and get an embarrassing result. A number of technology news outlets have once again had a collective fit over the state of diversity at technology companies. Apparently oblivious to the fact that some important industries are dominated by women (both on the employee and customer sides), they continue to lambast technology companies for apparently keeping women and other groups down. Of course, that’s not to say it’s acceptable to treat people unfairly, but that’s just the point—where’s the fairness?
According to Nancy Lee, Google’s VP of people operations (only a major U.S. corporation could come up with a position like that), “The tech industry really understands that the future of our industry means we have to be more inclusive. We are literally building products for the world. It can’t be this homogeneous.” But just replace a couple words: “The education industry really understands that the future of our industry means we have to be more inclusive. We are literally training students for the world. It can’t be this homogeneous.” That's the same argument, the same reasoning, but a completely reversed situation. Women represent almost 75% of employees in “education and training,” according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. They also earn many more degrees than men and are hugely favored in hiring for tenure-track faculty positions for science, no less. So where’s the crusade for a better balance in education? Is anybody out there?
Is there a culture that prevents women and minorities from succeeding in technology? Maybe; maybe not. But if we are to be honest, we need to consider other imbalanced industries and ask the same questions of them rather than focusing on one and ignoring all data that doesn’t fit the story.
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