Google discloses its (lack of) diversity

SAN FRANCISCO ( – In a rare glimpse behind the tech curtain, Google on Wednesday released itsdiversity figures.

The numbers weren't good, but they were also in line with the few other companies that release such figures.

Eighty-three percent of Google's tech workers internationally are male. For non-tech jobs, the number is 52%. Its leadership is made of up 79% men.

In terms of racial diversity, the company overall is 61% white, 30% Asian, 3% Hispanic and 2% Black.

For tech positions, the numbers are similar—60% white, 34% Asian, 2% Hispanic and 1% Black.

In terms of leadership, the company skews more white. Seventy-two percent of its leaders are white, 23% Asian, 2% Black and 1% Hispanic.

Tech companies have long kept information about the makeup of their workforce secret.

A San Jose Mercury News attempt in 2010 to get Silicon Valley's 15 largest companies to disclose the race and gender of their workforces resulted in five companies, including Google, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle and Applied Materials, fighting the request on the grounds that it would cause them competitive harm.

A similar attempt two years later by CNN Money had much the same results.

Google decided that being open with its numbers was the first step towards changing them.

Speaking to Gwen Ifil on the PBS NewsHour, Google's vice president of "people operations," Laszlo Bock, said, "We're not where we want to be when it comes to diversity. And it is hard to address these kinds of challenges if you're not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts."

The only tech company of Google's size that has freely released its diversity information in the past is Intel. It posts its yearly federal Equal Employment Opportunity report to the federal government on its website.

For 2013, the chipmaker had a workforce that was 76% male, 57% white, 29% Asian, 8% Hispanic and 3% Black.

Companies in Silicon Valley have been reluctant to share diversity information, because the numbers aren't that attractive.

Google is working to bring more women and minorities into the company, though better outreach, training of current staff and also encouraging those who historically haven't studied tech subjects to do so.

Women and non-Asian minorities are very underrepresented in technology. That's in part because of who pursues computer science degrees.

In 2012, just 12% of computer science undergraduate degrees at major research universities went to women. In 1985 that number was 37%, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology.


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