We’ve come a long way since the first Grace Hopper conference in 1994, which brought together around 500 women in computing. Just this year, the annual Grace Hopper conference brought in 4,600 women, a huge difference from 1994.
While this may seem encouraging, not everyone is convinced that there are actually more women technologists in the industry than ever before. Tracy Chou, a software engineer at Pinterest, wants to see the numbers that underlie this claim.
“The actual numbers I’ve seen and experienced in industry are far lower than anybody is willing to admit,” Chou wrote in a post on Medium, an online forum. “This means nobody is having honest conversations about the issue.”
(More on the need for women in technology: Doubling the talent pool)
She continued to cite that when CNN investigated top U.S. tech companies in 2011 to 2013, all that they were able to find was that the industry was unwilling to release any workforce diversity data.
So, Chou is setting out to find the numbers herself. For the past month she has been collecting data on how many women are writing or architecting software full-time through her GitHub project. Currently, she has reported data for 107 companies, and based on her numbers, only 438 out of 3,594 engineers from those companies are female, a whopping 12%.
“We’ve all set up our booths at the Grace Hopper career fair and we’re all trying to recruit the same talented young women, but really, there’s a bigger goal: to remove gender as the hidden (or sometimes not-so-hidden) discriminant in the tech industry,” she wrote.
Chou’s data includes numbers from well-known companies such as Mozilla with 9% of female software engineers, GitHub with 6%, Pinterest with 13%, and Reddit with 14%.
Chou’s full collection of data can been viewed through a Google spreadsheet.