If we want to understand why the percentage of women in working in the tech sector has dropped from 35% in 1990 to just 26% today, asking some women in tech for their thoughts on the issue seems like a smart thing to do. Re/code is doing just that, in a new video series entitled The 26%: Women Speak Out on Tech’s Diversity Crisis, and a Google X robotics expert was first in line …
Leila Takayama is the senior user experience researcher at Google X and one of the world’s leading experts on human-robot interaction. She believes that a key issue is not conscious sexism, but the “implicit bias” that results from simply failing to think hard enough about the issue.
Being cognizant of being more inclusive I think makes a big difference. It’s really the implicit biases and the things that we just do because we didn’t think about it really hard that end up excluding parts of the team.
An example she gave was of a tech team with a tradition of having a scotch in the afternoon – a drink favored by many more men than women.
They weren’t doing it on purpose, they weren’t trying to exclude us, but it was.
She raised the issue, and the team switched out the scotch for cupcakes. The problem, says Takayama, is that it can be tiring to tackle that kind of bias when it feels like you’re doing it the whole time, and that can lead women to leave the company or the sector.
Google increased its spending on diversity initiatives to $150M back in May.
You can watch the video below.