It seems America is uncovering some ugly truths about itself lately that we thought were repaired years ago. If many of us thought racists in influential positions were long gone, along came Donald Sterling and other big names being caught spouting racial biases that still seem perplexing in a time of racial diversity. We’re also starting to discover another problem some thought had improved: Gender diversity. Unfortunately, it turned out that far too many women have been lagging behind in various careers despite the media making it appear as if women had taken many leadership roles men dominated in for decades.
While women have still made some strides in certain fields that they would have been shunned in less than 40 years ago, what does it say when Google admits to a major gender diversity problem? When it’s said one of the most powerful tech companies in the world mostly hires men, it seems to have broached a major problem afoot in America. But is that problem the result of actual education, or is there still a gender bias based on upholding past traditions?
You can base this on other gender equality inefficiencies that are being called out lately. One of the worst is in the film industry where many are starting to commune and call out a recurring problem in women obtaining decent movie roles, as well as being hired as directors. Is there a connection between the problem at Google and the movie industry, or are they two different scenarios preventing women from being able to succeed in arguably two of the most powerful industries in the world?
The Statistics Google Cites
It was in a blog post where the Google diversity problem was first revealed. Written by Laszlo Bock, the Senior Vice President for People Operations at Google, he claimed statistics showed women just haven’t been getting tech degrees as much as white males have in recent years. That might seem perplexing when it seems the IT industry has been filling up with more women since the 1990s when the tech boom started. We’d constantly heard stories about how women were treading life as a single career woman out to make a name for themselves in fields men had dominated for so long.
If that was happening in the tech world for a while, what’s happened to make it reverse so men ultimately took over?
Perhaps we haven’t been told the complete truth of the statistics, and the real problem is politics in the office on moving women in tech faster up the career ladder. A recent report in Daily Digest News on the Google issue suggests that with the company still employing 30% women, why aren’t they moving into leadership positions?
In that regard, the real problem in America may be in men upholding covert traditions based on what they’ve been told by their forebears.
Is Male Tradition Turning into a Secret Club?
Considering how long Google has been around now, there’s been at least 20 years worth of male seniority there that probably feels close to a fraternity. After at least a decade of male dominance in a field, traditions are going to be upheld that are going to become more challenging to break. Being male myself, I’ve seen how this happens in certain longstanding fields and where those who started a particular hiring trend mistakenly try to uphold it for the next generation.
With Baby Boomers starting to retire, many of them still grew up in an era when women were still not part of certain career frays. One of the worst fields with this train of thought is the movie industry that’s had far too many decades to allow males to dominate the industry. Outside of some women finally making it to executive positions in studios, the diversity of women in becoming directors or even in getting decent acting parts has waned considerably.
It’s not in a good spot right now considering how far we’ve come in all other diversity. Many prominent women in film (including Jane Campion) are also starting to use social media and other public forums to finally acknowledge this imbalance in the film industry. Yet, with 80 years of male dominance and likely an underground process of male nepotism besides, it’s going to take someone new and fresh in the industry who’s astutely aware of the problem to get it fixed.
So far, very few men with power in Hollywood have even come forward to acknowledge the problem or to at least set up an industry conference on the matter. Perhaps only Harvey Weinstein can assemble such a group since he seems to bring everyone together with a sense of peace.
In this regard, Google may be in the same situation now no thanks to the passage of time and tradition. At least Google has vowed to correct the problem, even if that statement came from someone who isn’t in the top positions to hire. The real diversity problem in America might be the pressure and fear of doing something different. And it’s at the root of many problems in top corporations (including our own government) where maintaining a status quo is almost paramount.