Labour MP and Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, Chi Onwurah, has been refused information by Microsoft and Google on how many female staff they employee, raising concerns on International Women’s Day that the technology industry is still stifling female career progression.
To make matters worse, Google and Microsoft were the only two companies out of ten technology and engineering firms that Onwurah questioned to outright refuse to provide the information.
Writing for Computerworld UK, Onwurah said: “Both are in IT, and are relatively young when compared to the likes of Shell, BP, Ford and Rolls-Royce.
“Google and Microsoft both cited confidentiality as the reason for refusing to share the data. That suggests that either Google and Microsoft do not know how to aggregate and anonymise such information in which case one might be legitimately concerned about their involvement in Big Data, or alternatively that they have so few women employees it is impossible to anonymise the data.”
She added: “That would raise a different set of concerns!”
The other companies provided Onwurah with a detailed breakdown of where female staff where employed and their policies for recruiting more female employees. The main highlights are as follows:
• BAE Systems – 8 percent of engineering workforce and 5 percent of the senior executive engineering community. Also, 9 percent of engineering apprentice recruits, and 15 percent of engineering graduate recruits.
• Rolls Royce – 15 percent of all employees and 9.1 percent of staff within the engineering function.
• ARM – 5 percent of those in engineering, but none of those are senior management. No women among the ‘Fellows’, which are the most senior technical specialists and represent the top 1 percent of technical staff.
• BP – 15 percent of Group Leaders; 25 percent of managers and 29 percent of all employees. In 2011, 20 percent of UK graduate recruits into engineering roles were female, and 42 percent into science roles.
• Shell – 18 percent of those in engineering and technical roles. In 2010, 23 percent of the technical graduate intake was female, this improved to 29 percent in 2011.
• Ford – One member of the Ford of Britain Board is female (14.3 percent), 16.7 percent in IT, 6.2 percent in product development, 4.5 percent in manufacturing, 7.2 percent in engineering apprentices and 13.2 percent in dealer apprentices.
• Microsoft – refused to provide.
• Google – refused to provide.
Chi Onwurah added: “Overall I was reassured that many companies are taking steps to address the gender imbalance. I am worried that Microsoft and Google, role models in their own right, do not appear to want to let anyone know how well, or badly, they are doing.”
To read Chi Onwurah’s full article, click here.
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