Startling Research Reveals How Women And Non-Binary People In Tech Are REALLY Doing
While the conversation around increased diversity in tech looms large, the fulfillment of those lofty promises has been disastrous. Women and non-binary technologists and people in the global majority* fuel the industry and yet, they consistently receive the short end of the stick.
The fact is, these people deal with harrasment and discrimination at an alarming rate. Their experiences not only hinder their professional growth but cause pain and strife in other areas in their lives. They continue to be treated like less-thans in an industry that needs, but doesn’t fully value them. I’m tired of saying this but I’ll grab my bullhorn and state it anyway: This must stop. Now.
This is not a plea, asking companies, institutions and organizations to take an amorphous, wordy pledge, post it on social media and roll it into future talking points. This is a report out to our industry (and others) that paints a picture: the people who make their companies successful are being discriminated against, harassed, underpaid and underappreciated. And we have the data to prove it.
Each year at AnitaB.org, we conduct a global survey of women and non-binary technologists to ascertain their lived reality and work experiences. Through the Technical Equity Experience Survey (TechEES), we learn how the tech industry has supported or spurned one its most underutilized/unappreciated resources.
Our latest report revealed that 90% of the respondents experienced some form of discrimination and 100% – one-hundred percent! – reported harassment. When disaggregating that data by race, Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander (BLNP) respondents reported increased feelings of race-based discrimination and harassment between 2019 and 2021, a pivotal timeframe that included a global pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes, the police killings of Black citizens and the movement for Black lives, a presidential election and much more. This type of intersectional othering is, at best, worrisome and, at worse, dangerous.
The numbers are no less comforting with the rest of the findings: only 55.1% of women and non-binary technologists feel like they are being paid fairly for the work they do, and across all career levels, women and non-binary technologists who are Black continue to be paid less than their peers. As many know, white women earn 82 cents for every $1 a man makes, with women of color faring much worse; this even holds true in an industry known for paying its top executives excellent salaries with very generous benefits, access largely denied to people in marginalized groups.
And while money is important – pay equity now! – feeling like your company, organization or institution is a place where you belong, where you’re understood and respected, matters, too. Among other sanctioned activities, the untamed ‘bro’ culture in tech continues to contribute to feeling “othered.” Just 63.5% of all women and non-binary techs surveyed reported a sense of belonging, with Black respondents reporting a particularly low sense of belonging.
What can we do with this data? While some of the findings are disappointing, they also present an opportunity for action. Here at AnitaB.org, our commitment to addressing these inequities and righting these wrongs is clear and we invite companies and institutions to take action, too. We exist to help.
First, employers have a chance to open dialogue with their employees – ask questions, listen for understanding, and craft thoughtful, responsible responses. Second, if employer leaders don’t know how to address these critical issues, they should ask the experts. There are countless consultants and organizations, including ours, who are trained to help committed companies change work culture and practices. Third, follow through. It’s not enough to make bold statements, distribute a press release, and “form a committee.” Companies, institutions, and individuals must hold themselves accountable through action and remain urgently committed to mutually-agreed upon goals, until those goals are reached.
If these things happen, we’ll be on our way to true diversity and inclusion.
*Black, Brown, Asian and Indigenous and people in the global south
To download the 2021 TechEES report, click here.