Melinda Gates says it’s time for tech companies to act when it comes to diversity.
Gates’ company Pivotal Ventures, in partnership with McKinsey & Company, just released a report stating that major technology companies are not putting enough effort into closing the race and gender gap in the tech industry.
The report, entitled “Rebooting Representation: Using CSR and Philanthropy to Close the Gender Gap in Tech,” revealed that only 5 percent of the $500 million tech companies spend on philanthropy went to programs that explicitly targeted women and girls in tech. For minority women, the numbers are much worse, with less than .1 percent going to programming for women and girls of color.
As a result of Gates’ report, some of the biggest names in tech have joined together to form the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, a group focused on increasing representation of women of color in the industry. Microsoft, PayPal, and Twitter are just a few of the companies involved in the effort. Those same tech giants are now pledging more than $12 million to tech programming for underrepresented young women over three years, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. That’s more than 30 times what the companies surveyed spent last year on tech programs for women and girls of color.
“I love imagining these young women and the future ahead of them,” Gates said in a LinkedIn article. “They may or may not be thinking about careers in tech yet. But it matters that tech is thinking about them.”
The report noted that 47 percent of middle and high school girls show an interest in computer science, but only 23 percent of high school girls took advanced placement computer science exams.
These numbers worsen as minority girls mature and enter the workforce. In 2017, black women made up three percent of the computing workforce, while Latina women only made up one percent.
Organizations like Black Girls Code and Girls Who Code work to facilitate programming for underrepresented girls with an interest in tech. Both organizations offer summer camps, training and workshops to teach girls about computing and have previously received donations from Microsoft, a member of the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition.