Heidrick & Struggles: Debugging The High-Tech Industry's Gender Gap

Men continue to vastly outnumber women in computer science professions. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), in 2014 women made up just 26% of the computing workforce. At the top of the corporate ladder, the picture is even bleaker: that same year, women held just 6% of chief information officer (CIO) positions.

Even more striking is that despite the astronomical growth projected in technology industries — NCWIT estimates 1.2 million computing jobs will be available in 2022 — women's interest in studying computer science has declined. Women accounted for 37% of computer science bachelor's degrees in 1985 but only 18% in 2013.

What's behind this trend? That's the question that director and filmmaker Robin Hauser Reynolds set out to answer. Her new documentary, Code: Debugging the Gender Gap, explores the lack of gender, race, and socioeconomic parity in the computer sciences sector.

To shed light on the computer science gender gap and its impact on talent and competitiveness, Heidrick & Struggles recently convened two screenings of the film and held subsequent panel discussions with Reynolds and five technology executives:

Kyla Brennan, founder and CEO of influencer marketing firm HelloSociety; Rachel Franklin, vice president and general manager of The Sims Studio and executive producer of The Sims 4 at Electronic Arts; David Haddad, president of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment; Richelle Parham, former CMO of eBay; and Gabrielle Toledano, executive vice president of human resources and chief talent officer for Electronic Arts.

The following article, adapted from the discussions, features the panelists' insights on the challenges along with suggestions on how to solve them — from focusing on the computer science talent pipeline, unconscious biases, and the messages we send our children about “appropriate” roles to the importance of diversity in hiring and support from other women in the field in helping to shape the computer science workforce of tomorrow.

To read the full article, click here.

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