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Why So Few Women Break Through Tech's Bro Culture

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Silicon Valley prides itself on its progressive views on climate change, same-sex marriage, transgender rights and other cultural issues. Why does it have such trouble with gender equality? Women are underrepresented in the U.S. technology industry and hold disproportionately fewer tech-related jobs throughout the developed world. Allegations of widespread bias at high-profile companies, including at online ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc., have pushed tech executives to promise improvement. Uber’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick resigned, and its board adopted major leadership changes following investigations of the company’s workplace culture. More broadly, progress has been inconsistent. In 1960, women held 27 percent of computer and mathematical jobs. In 1990, they held 35 percent of those occupations. But by 2013, their numbers had fallen back to 26 percent.

Pretty bad. In a 2016 survey, women held about 21 percent of technical jobs, which includes hardware, software, information services and consulting, at 60 of the largest U.S. companies. That’s up only slightly from a year earlier. Women make up about half of all U.S. employees in private industry yet only 32 percent of workers in computer-systems design. Women’s share of engineering jobs inched up to 12 percent in 2015, from 11 percent in 2000. On average, women are paid 89 cents for every dollar a man earns in top science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) positions, according to Bloomberg calculations.