Today, the people who develop software in the United States are overwhelmingly white and male. Evidence shows that persistently low diversity leads to software, algorithms and products that reflect the biases of their creators. 2017 was a year of sexual harassment and gender discrimination scandals in Internet companies and venture capital firms.
These are problems for the health of the Internet.
Expectations are rising for companies to become more diverse and genuinely inclusive. Initiatives like AnitaB.org, National Society for Black Engineers and Code2040 are chipping away at barriers to entry, often with financial support from companies themselves.
And while increasing diversity is critical, the often toxic work culture within many tech companies will also need to change for people from underrepresented groups to thrive.
More companies are publicizing their diversity metrics, inviting greater transparency and accountability. But these numbers don’t tell all. Often gains in gender or race diversity are not reflected directly on engineering teams, or only in lower salaried roles.
Acknowledging the problem and increasing diversity is a good start, but to build truly inclusive products, companies need to welcome a wider array of diverse perspectives, from gender to race, to economic background, languages, cultures and more.
Gender and ethnic diversity in the biggest US tech companies
Data sources: Self-reported diversity metrics from tech companies, based on data from 2016 or 2017. Compiled in Diversity in Tech by Information is Beautiful, 2018.
*Mozilla’s 2017 diversity metrics are forthcoming in the second quarter of 2018.