It's not new news that women, African-Americans and Hispanics/ Latinos are generally unwanted by the tech elites in the Silicon Valley area of Northern California but following the announcement of Twitter's planned IPO (initial public offering) renewed focus has been given to the issue because of a public spat between Dick Costolo, Twitter's CEO, and Vivek Wadhwa, an Indian-born entrepreneur turned academic, over the lack of women on both the board of the micro-blogging site and its senior management.
Meg Whitman who used to run eBay, is head of Hewlett-Packard, Marissa Mayer, is the CEO of Yahoo!, while Sheryl Sandberg is the No. 2 at Facebook. However, the structure at Apple is the more common one, where women are a rare specie in the executive management. This week Apple announced that Angela Ahrendts, an American who is CEO of Burberry the British luxury fashion house, will become Apple’s third retail chief in as many years.
The New York Times says that about 49% of publicly traded information technology businesses have no women on their boards, compared with 36% of the 2,770 largest public companies in the country, according to GMI Ratings, a research firm. Meanwhile, women made up 15% of those employed in software programming and other computer jobs in the 1970s, rising to 34% in 1990, according to the Census Bureau. But since then, in spite of two big booms, women’s share of computing jobs has fallen to 27%.
In 2012, 14% of S&P 1500 company board seats [pdf] are held by women, a three percentage point increase over six years.
This criterion is however disingenuous or dishonest. Wadhwa says: "Look at the composition of the Twitter board as an example." As Connie Guglielmo reported in Forbes:
Last November, the San José Mercury News reported that its analysis of Census Bureau data showed that the percentage of Asian tech workers grew from 39% in 2000 to just more than 50% in 2010 in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties combined.
California's Santa Clara and San Mateo counties were called 'Silicon Valley' by Don C Hoefler, a journalist, in a series of articles in 1971.
Hispanics and Latinos make up 27% of the population of Santa Clara County and African-Americans account for 3%.
African-American and Hispanic tech workers each saw slight decreases: Positions held by African-American tech workers fell from 2.8% to 2.3%; those held by Hispanic workers dropped from 4.6% to 4.2%.
An earlier analysis by the newspaper showed that of the combined work force of 10 of the Valley's largest companies - - including Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Cisco Systems, eBay and AMD - - showed that while the collective work force of those 10 companies grew by 16% between 1999 and 2005, an already small population of black workers dropped by 16%, while the number of Hispanic workers declined by 11%. By 2005, only about 2,200 of the 30,000 Silicon Valley-based workers at those 10 companies were black or Hispanic.
The share of women at those 10 companies declined to 33% in 2005, from 37% in 1999. There was also a decline in the share of management-level.
IT workplaces, including tech startups, can create hostile or unpleasant environments for women and people of color, leading to those employees seeking out other companies or even other industries for work.
A 2011 report states that biases inherent in the average tech workplace make it a less-than-inviting environment for women and minorities, who deal with negative workplace experiences, such as exclusionary cliques and bullying at much higher rates than do their male and white counterparts.
Freada Kapor Klein, a venture partner at Kapor Capital, who is also the founder of the advocacy group, Level Playing Field Institute, wrote last year that "ideas for startups born of different lived experience, new approaches to problem-solving and managing -- can only be achieved if we loosen the grip of the belief that there is one best way to run a meeting or run a company. Similarly, the belief that there is a clear best qualified candidate for every job holds a grain of truth but also leaves room for bucketfuls of hidden biases."
Eric Ries, the author of 'The Lean Startup' wrote in the TechCrunch blog:
Vivek Wadhwa told TechCrunch TV in 2012 of a smattering of sexists and racists at large venture capitalist firms who, he says, kill the deals that fund minority-led startups. These “arrogant people who think they are gods,” he said, they are the bigots who are undermining the meritocratic foundations of Silicon Valley.
Immigrant entrepreneurs from countries such as India and China are of course not free of bigotry either and the high percentage of Asians working in the big tech companies partly reflects that reality together with the preference of tech managers for immigrants.
Wage inequality in San José, the biggest urban centre in Silicon Valley, is second highest in the United States.
Amidst one of the wealthiest regions in America, the city has struggled for years with austerity.
The New York Times says that the metropolis of nearly a million residents is the third-largest city in California and now spends one-fifth of its $1.1bn general fund on pensions and retiree health care, and the amount keeps rising. To free up the money, services have been cut, libraries and community centers closed, the number of city workers trimmed, salaries reduced, and new facilities left unused for lack of staff. From potholes to home burglaries, the city's problems are growing.
"We're Silicon Valley, we're not Detroit," said Xavier Campos, a Democratic city councilman representing San José's poor East Side. "It shouldn't be happening here. We're not the Rust Belt."
The Times adds in another piece that in the past, the tech industry created middle-class jobs and lifted the overall economy of Silicon Valley. But as tech companies have shifted manufacturing and midlevel jobs overseas over the years, highly paid workers have increasingly clustered there. Per-capita incomes have been rising even as median incomes have decreased for five years in a row, according to Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a private organization that co-publishes an annual report on the region.
Silicon Valley is an expensive place for poor people.
Sales figures for single-family homes in Santa Clara and San Mateo, the two main counties in Silicon Valley, show median prices have risen about 30% in the past year while the inventory of available homes has fallen by roughly half, according to an analysis of local multiple listing service data by the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors. The median prices for March - - $735,000 in Santa Clara and $925,000 in San Mateo -- "only hint at the current market’s frenzy."
Check out our subscription service, Finfacts Premium , at a low annual charge of €25
© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com