High-profile promotions like those of Marissa Mayer to CEO at Yahoo, and Sheryl Sandberg to COO at Facebook, suggest that a critical mass of women have found a place in the computer technology industry. In fact, women remain significantly underrepresented in the high-skill jobs in America's computer technology sector. At least one important player thinks it's time for a change, and more importantly, is putting money and company policy behind the effort.
A study conducted by the American Institute for Economic Research in 2014 found that only 25 percent of skilled workers in the computer technology workforce were female. Subsequent reports by technology companies have confirmed the AIER analysis that males fill the vast majority of computer industry skilled jobs.
At the same time the finance sector, which hires the same number of high-skilled workers as computer technology firms (2.6 million in 2013), enjoys a far more even distribution of men and women. In fact, women make up 55 percent of high-skilled finance workers, while they are avoiding computer technology careers in droves. In economic terms, the U.S. labor market for skilled technology workers is inefficient in the extreme, because millions of potential entrants -- women -- are missing.
One major computer technology company is taking action to try to reverse this trend. In January, Intel Corporation CEO Brian Krzanich announced a major new effort to bring more women, as well as minorities, into the Intel work force.
The Intel program is aimed at countering barriers that are keeping more women from pursuing careers in computer technology. The company intends to invest $300 million over six years to promote science and technology education and careers among girls and women from grade school through college. As reported by Fortune, the company is also setting employment and retention goals for their human resource managers aimed at achieving "full representation of women and under-represented minorities at Intel by 2020."
Rather than simply wait for government to solve its workforce needs with more H1B visas, Intel is investing business dollars into making labor markets in the U.S. more efficient, and expanding the pool of workers available to them. That is both good business and good economics.