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Tech CEOs: Gender Diversity Not Top Priority

Sarah Thomas
2/24/2016

More than 60% of tech CEOs don't think gender diversity is very important when it comes to filling their board positions, according to a new survey from Qualtrics and the Boardlist, a curated marketplace for potential female board members.

The Boardlist, which officially launched out of beta in Europe last month, sent tech CEOs and founders who are backed by over 30 venture capital firms a survey on how they fill their boards. Thirty-eight percent did indicate that gender diversity is very important, but another 38% rated it "less important" and the remainder fell somewhere in between. (See WiCipedia: Faulty Feminism, Worthy Women & Peculiar Perks.)

That's not to say they don't value gender diversity. Three-quarters said that it can lead to enhanced board effectiveness, and 65% said it can enhance company performance. But other forms of diversity, such as diversity of opinion and thought, were rated more important, survey participants said. Nearly 70% said that adding a specific expertise to the board was either extremely or very important. (See More Women in Tech Is Critically Important.)


Women in Comms' first networking breakfast of the year will be taking place on March 10 in Denver. Register here to join!


Finding both qualified female candidates and those with specific expertise isn't a mutually exclusive task, of course. But these tech CEOs also echoed a past complaint -- that it is hard to find women for the job. Eighty percent said there are a sufficient number of qualified male candidates for their board, while only 50% said there were enough women. (See Half of Tech CEOs Struggle to Find Female Board Members.)

From the surveyed group, 73% said finding female candidates with the right experience was a major barrier to adding gender diversity to their board; 79% said the time it takes to source a gender diverse slate of candidates was a major issue; and 65% said finding female candidates that fit their board's "culture" was a challenge. (See Championing Change: It's a Cultural Thing.)

The Boardlist is hoping to use data from the survey results to refine how it presents its female candidates based on what matters to tech companies. Its ultimate goal is to increase diversity at the executive level of technology companies to rectify the fact that, it estimates, 75% to 78% of privately funded company boards do not have a female director.

The Boardlist at launch includes more than 1,000 highly qualified women with endorsements from over 200 CEOs, business leaders and investors across industries. It says it currently has 40 searches in progress.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas
2/26/2016 | 2:13:50 PM
Re: Bias. It's real. Deal with it.
Thanks, Brian. All excellent points and presented with legitimate sources. Much better than unsubstantiated, grossly general claims. 
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas
2/26/2016 | 2:12:53 PM
Re: cultural fits
Thanks, Carol (and everyone else!), for weighing in on this. I think you captured the goal of Women in Comms perfectly. 
inkstainedwretch
inkstainedwretch
2/26/2016 | 2:06:38 PM
Bias. It's real. Deal with it.
When people are presented with identical resumes, one with a nominally (pun intended) male name on it and the other with a female name on it, the  candidate perceived to be male is more likely to be considered for hire. (1)

Male students think other male students are smarter than female classmates, even when the women have better grades (2)

Male software engineers rate the code written by women as superior, but only if the gender of the coder is hidden. If they know the software engineer is a woman, they rate the code more harshly. (3)

If you present men with clear evidence of bias, they discount the research. (4)

What if one of the major brain wiring differences between men and women turns out to be that men are more likely to be "hardwired" to be condescending and self-righteous? 

--Brian Santo

References

(1) http://www.pnas.org/content/109/41/16474.full

(2) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/16/the-remarkably-different-answers-men-and-women-give-when-asked-whos-the-smartest-in-the-class/

(3) http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/12/women-considered-better-coders-hide-gender-github

(4) http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/10/19/3713612/men-ignore-hard-evidence-of-gender-bias/

 
cnwedit
cnwedit
2/26/2016 | 10:48:02 AM
Re: cultural fits
In theory, I agree with you, Seven, but in practice we tend as humans to gravitate toward people most like us. And that occasionally means we overlook talent when it comes in less familiar packages. 

The tech industry is constantly looking for new talent and is going to need more and more Why not engage in efforts that open the doors to a wider pool of that talent and ensure that anyone interested doesn't face unnecessary barriers? 

That's what efforts such as Women in Comms are all about. As I've said over and over again, it isn't about gender diversity for its own sake. 
kq4ym
kq4ym
2/26/2016 | 10:13:57 AM
Re: cultural fits
Yes, it does seem there's more going on than the excuse in the survey that there plenty of qualified men. but "only 50% said there were enough women." It's going to be a slower road than most imagined to get diversity moving along in lots of corporations it seems.
brooks7
brooks7
2/25/2016 | 12:19:24 PM
Re: cultural fits
Carol,

I would say that the variation between individuals within a gender greatly exceeds any difference between the genders.  Doesn't that render us to evaluate a person at a time instead of any group by gender (and in fact I would add that this applies to all of our traditional stereotypes of race, religion, etc.)?

seven

 
cnwedit
cnwedit
2/25/2016 | 11:26:59 AM
Re: cultural fits
Apparently at least one male brain also favors selective reading and narrow-minded thinking. 

The goal of efforts like Women in Comms is to remove the barriers that currently impact women who are interested in math, science and technology. The goal is not gender balance for its own sake, it is recognizing that there are, in fact, genuine benefits to having a gender balanced approach.

Arguments like yours have been used over the years to keep women out of medicine - where they are perfectly capable of being good doctors - and out of the legal profession, where they are perfectly capable of being good lawyers and judges. Women have been told they can't be athletes and they can't be leaders. In every case, when barriers were removed, they excelled. 

We look back at that thinking now and recognize its foolishness. I can guarantee that 100 years from now, the "tech industry" will look back on thinking like yours as foolishness as well.
TV Monitor
TV Monitor
2/25/2016 | 10:59:54 AM
Re: cultural fits
Carol Wilson

OK, believe in what you want and deny inherent gender differences in brain wiring, but I can guarantee you that 100 years from now, the "tech industry" will still be dominated by men, because the tech profession favors male brain over female brain. You cannot undo the effect of biology and turn female brain into male brain. You need to understand that a male brain is created by not adding stuff, but by destroying specific circuitry via neural pruning.

It is futile to achieve a gender balance in math, engineering, and hard sciences, the real objective should be overall gender equity in employment rates and hourly wages, even if it's not across same industries.
PaulERainford
PaulERainford
2/25/2016 | 4:34:54 AM
Oh dear
I fear we may have strayed into this territory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS37SNYjg8w
TeleWRTRLiz
TeleWRTRLiz
2/24/2016 | 7:03:54 PM
Re: cultural fits
 
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