It's nothing new that women are paid significantly less in several industries (Jennifer Lawrence just spoke about her personal experience with the gender pay gap in Hollywood), and tech is one of the industries that lacks the most equality among pay between men and women.
Adding more to the mix, diversity is another factor that has raised concern in terms of leadership roles and pay for women in tech. Women are already faced with a hurdle when looking for leadership roles in tech and achieving the same salary as men, but what if you're an African-American woman? Asian woman? Hispanic? Do these ethnicities find a larger struggle in addition to their gender, and how do we break this barrier?
Fast Company approached this issue in a recent interview with former Google employee
Jamesha Fisher, who in 2009 found herself in an internship at the staple company after graduating college from Depaul University.
Jamesha found herself wondering if her leadership position was because of her gender and African-American ethnicity, or if it was because of her talent. Imagine having that thought: Whether you're given an opportunity because of a statistic necessity, or because you actually deserve it? Being awarded for your hard work and goal-setting should be inspiring and rewarding, not concerning.
Let's take a step back: What prompts this type of thinking? Fast Company reports that, "Thirty years ago, women earned 37% of all computer science bachelors degrees, and that number has fallen to 12% today. Statistics from the National Science Foundation show that about 25% of those employed as computer scientists are female, while women make up about 17% of the engineering profession, and only one in five software developers is female."
This is nothing new - it's well known that women are underrepresented in the tech field, largely due to the lack of women that are seeking a job in STEM (science, tech, engineering, math.) The solution to the larger issue is to get more young girls involved with STEM through programs like NASA's Datanaut Corps initiative or with STEM-focused products like Jewelbots, a tech wearable for young girls.
What about women in tech now? Is it their job to be an activist for the minority in tech and be a platform for future women seeking a career in tech? Jamesha quotes to Fast Company that she's "not interested in being a trailblazer just to set a precedent for other women or minorities in tech. 'No job is worth losing your mind over,' she says. 'If you feel like you are suffering as a double minority or feel stigmatism is too much, don't stay there. You have all the right and power to go."
Jamesha talks about how she's an introvert by nature, and to overcome her fears she sought out a support system that served as a sounding board for her situation. Her point is that it's not always the best solution to fight fire with fire, quoting to Fast Company, "I don't think anybody should be like, 'Stick it out.' The key to making the leap less scary is to tap the support of communities."
What can be taken away from this is that sometimes it's more brave to walk away from a situation in order to achieve your best self. Work somewhere that empowers you and surround yourself with people that push you in the right direction. The best way to be an advocate for women and double minorities in tech is to be the fiercest you can be, and sometimes that means taking the road less traveled. At least, that's how I'm interpreting Jamesha's bold statement of sometimes needing to walk away from a situation to put yourself in a better one.
It takes more than just one case study to make a real shift for change, and companies like GoDaddy are publicly recognizing this to begin a real trend for change. TechCrunch reported last week that the company is the first public tech company to release a deeper level of statistics in its diversity report.
The report states that "female executives are paid four percent less than male executives," but throughout the entire company women are "compensated .28 percent more than men ... but the gap persists for women in technical roles: Women in technical positions make .11 percent less than men, while women in non-technical roles make .35 percent more than men."
GoDaddy's CEO Blake Irving has publicly said that the company is working on changing its image of flaunting scantily clad women to promote its brand and hopes that these levels of transparency in gender pay gaps will transcend to other companies.
Blake isn't just all talk, either. He says that one of the reasons for pay gaps is due to "'paying it backward.' As women move from one job to another, Irving said their lower salaries are passed along with them." His next step is to address and evaluate these pay disparities. What this report did not address, however, is how ethnicity impacts pay. Blake has acknowledged this and promises to address this statistic in future reports.
Other companies like Pinterest have implemented promising programs that aim to bridge the pay gap and leadership opportunities between genders and ethnicities, and with the growing awareness of these disparities across several industries, we can only expect more bigger brands will follow suit.
There may not be a single, magical solution to pay inequality among genders and ethnicities, but we can continue to challenge ourselves as women and double minorities: What do I deserve? What can I do to ensure that future women and myself receive the same standards and opportunities as men? It may be as small as meeting with a mentor weekly at a coffee shop, or it may be publishing a book challenging women to Lean In and take bigger risks. Whatever it is, don't hide your fierce.
Want to learn more about this issue and stay up to date on STEM-focused programs for females? Check out these initiatives:
NASA's Datanaut Corps
Girls Who Code
Girl Develop It
Million Women Mentors