International Women’s Day in the workplace should be about supporting women!

Today is March 8th, 2021 and there will be a lot of celebratory messages to women. As a woman who has spent 3 decades working outside the home and several years focused on increasing my education, it still pains me that women typically make less money than males for a similar job – especially if they happen to be black or hispanic like me. It also pains me that the pay gap gets larger as their career progress. Meaning even when females get promoted the difference in what they make vs their male coworkers gets larger. So here are some recommendations for a more actionable celebration of women at the workplace:

  1. Unconscious Bias. Be mindful of your unconscious biases. If you think you have no biases, that probably means you have a blind spot. We all have unconscious biases. Learn more about this topic and how to overcome them.
  2. Hiring. Diversity in hiring needs to be intentional. If all the resumes you are seeing after they have passed through the selection algorithm and the recruiter’s assessment tend to represent only a segment of the population (i.e.: white men), please go back to your recruiters and ask for a more diverse pool of candidates. They are there and you will find them. Sometimes their resumes are just not getting through.
  3. Data. Ideally organizations should be looking at data examining how their compensation and promotion practices differ by gender, race, age, etc. But even if your organization does not publish this data, if you are a manager you can still look at your team’s data to determine if there are some imbalances.
    • Run a compensation report on your team members and sort the data by salary within Salary Bands. Examine each of the groups (by salary band) carefully. Are most of the people on the bottom of the list females or minorities?
    • Now sort the data by time since last promotion. Are most of the people on the bottom of the list females or minorities?
    • Now go deeper. Look at the individuals’ background: academic degrees, years of experience, performance reviews and use that information to determine if the imbalances are warranted. Here is a cool exercise. Remove names and replace with a code. Now look at the data without the names. Is the salary and promotion data in alignment with what every individual brings to the organization?
    • Keep this in mind for the next promotion cycle. You may have an opportunity to rectify previous imbalances.
  4. Be a sponsor. Not just a mentor. Make sure you are providing opportunities to bring diverse pools of people to work on strategic assignments, and give visibility to them. Sometimes your best employees are not necessarily the most vocal ones. Help get theirs voices heard.

Women in Software Engineering – Data Visualizations

Tracy Chou, Software Engineer at Pinterest has become a leading voice for women in the tech industry by using data to call attention to how few of them are employed as engineers. She has uploaded a spreadsheet (, that companies can use to make public the number of female engineers in their ranks. The goal: to identify the scope of the problem as a first step toward making a stronger commitment to address it.

I used the data to create some visualizations.

Quantifying Silicon Valley’s Diversity Issue

Where are the Women in Computer Science?

If I had to think of a perfect field for a woman, Computer Science would have to be it. It not only offers some of the highest incomes but also the most flexibility, which is… the holly grail of a professional woman.  It provides the skills to get a highly paying good job, but most importantly – in my opinion – it also provides the skills to go out into the world and create… new products, new businesses, while possibly even changing the world in the process. Yet, women are not gravitating to it. In fact:

  • Just 0.4 percent of all female college freshmen say they intend to major in computer science
  • The share of women in computer science has actually fallen over the years. In 1990-91, about 29 % of bachelor’s degrees awarded in computer and information sciences went to women; 20 years later, it has plunged to 18 %.
  • Just 25% of all Americans in computer-related occupations are women

Some research indicates Computer Science has a public image problem. Others indicate the lack of role models plays a part. After all how many of us grow up around women scientists or engineers?  That is why, initiatives like Girls Who Code will slowly start making a difference in the degree of adoption of technology skills by women as well as in their career choices.  But it is interesting to see other sources of inspiration. And it turns out TV shows like CSI, or Bones are beginning to have an impact too. In fact, the most common career aspiration named on Girls Who Code applications is forensic science. And this is relevant because in general there is very low representation of women in engineering positions in TV show and movies. The ratio of men to women in those jobs is 14.25 to 1 in family films and 5.4 to 1 in prime time. While all these initiatives are relevant, there is one area that is lagging behind, and it is our education system overall.  Most elementary and public schools don’t teach computer science, and the few that do usually only teach how to use technology (creating a PowerPoint presentation, say) rather than how to create it.  So what is a parent to do to motivate our daughters and even our sons to learn programming skills? we cannot rely on our school system. We have to explore organizations such as Girls who Code and others to ensure our kids do not become the illiterates of the future.