LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific (About)


LIRNEasia’s position on gender and ethnic representation

We don’t really have a formal position. But we collect data on gender and country representation, among other things, in all the training events we run and report them. From the time I used to be involved in admitting students to graduate studies, I’ve had to think about and act on issues of gender and ethnic balance. I’ve never been for quotas; but have always been committed to affirmative action. And I believe I was responsible for admitting some of the most diverse classes of grad students to my School.

If I am against quotas, why do I collect data? I think that they can warn us of problems when they deviate too much to either extreme. When LIRNEasia became a predominantly female organization, I felt it was a symptom of a problem. When a particular CPRsouth conference saw female participation dipping to 20 percent, the lowest ever, I started worrying. The next conference saw more women than men both as paper presenters and young scholars. Not that changed our selection procedures, but we just had lots more women applying. In any case, I would always work on the pipeline (applications, young scholars) rather than impose quotas.

And one has to also factor in specific sector characteristics. ICT infrastructure issues, economics, regulation, many of the topics we work on, are male dominated. If we get one third women, we’re ahead of the norm.

So I read the agonizing over Google employee gender and ethnic composition with sympathy. Google is a private company that is in the business of making money. If they were the government, they’d have a stronger obligation to engage in affirmative action. But the fact that they are counting and are willing to make public their numbers shows they care. There can be no obligation to have the internal composition of any single organization mirror that of society. That’s just plain silly.

Thirty percent of Google’s 46,170 employees worldwide are women, the company said, and 17 percent of its technical employees are women. Comparatively, 47 percent of the total work force in the United States is women and 20 percent of software developers are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of its United States employees, 61 percent are white, 2 percent are black and 3 percent are Hispanic. About one-third are Asian — well above the national average — and 4 percent are of two or more races. Of Google’s technical staff, 60 percent are white, 1 percent are black, 2 percent are Hispanic, 34 percent are Asian and 3 percent are of two or more races.

In the United States work force over all, 80 percent of employees are white, 12 percent are black and 5 percent are Asian, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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