Anita Borg Institute Study: Diversity in Technology

Rikki Kite

ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange

Jun 02, 2009 GMT
Rikki Kite

The Anita Borg Institute unveiled recent study results that indicate women and minorities are underrepresented in the field of technology, particularly in senior-level positions.

According to the study, Obstacles and Solutions for Underrepresented Minorities in Technology, unequal access to technology in education plays a big role: "Starting at the K-12 level, underrepresented students are more likely to be in school districts lacking the resources for a rigorous computer science curriculum."

The study points to other factors that lead to this shortage of minorities and women, including narrow perception of available career paths, bias and stereotyping starts early and continues throughout a career, tokenism (a lone minority/woman in a group of men receives extra performance scrutiny), absence of role models, scarcity of mentors, isolation, lack of access to influential social networks, and non-inclusive practices.

Why does this lack of diversity matter? Among other things, the report points out that companies lose out on the "gender and ethnic diversity in decision making," and that the "US prominence in science and technology has been seriously undermined in recent years due to the decreasing enrollment of students in computer science."

What can be done to help increase diversity in the workplace? The report makes several suggestions, including that managers should be aware of the proportion of underrepresented minorities in the company, offer diverse pathways for advancement, and examine hiring and promotional practices.

To see the 44-page report, visit: http://www.anitaborg.org/news/research/

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