Each year, Portland Women in Technology (PDXWIT) captures important data about the tech industry, independent of company, group or association affiliation. Our goal is to deeply understand what it is like for people in the community and to identify themes that need to be addressed. In developing the 2019 survey, we found opportunities to improve the dataset from 2018. We made some substantial changes:
This year, we found current tech industry power structures have defined and funded diversity and inclusion initiatives that benefit white and cis indvidials, and workplace harassment is an ongoing issue.
While reviewing the results, please take note of the following:
We encourage you to use this data to propel action, though we understand not everyone is in a position to do so. As such, we’ve provided a few ideas:
Share this data broadly, reference it often and join our movement.
When talking about company culture, it is important to frame it in two ways: articulated and expressed. Articulated culture is the way the company talks about its culture while expressed culture is how people experience culture. In this survey, we specifically asked people to tell us about their expressed culture. Despite tech companies reaching a fever pitch of endorsement of diversity and inclusion, broadly speaking, survey respondents feel the actual progress is tepid.
The way in which tech companies are talking about diversity and inclusion is predominantly reasonating with white and/or cis folks. The implication here is that as an industry, we do not have a shared understanding of what diversity and inclusion even means, perpetuating a narrative that is, in and of itself, exclusive.
White and cis individuals are more likely to recommend their company specifically to underrepresented folks because the way in which the company talks about diversity and inclusion is resonating with them. In other words, the current tech industry diversity and inclusion narrative is appealing to white and cis individuals so much that they are willing to recommend underrepresented folks work for their company, without realizing that the experience of an underrepresented person will not be the same as the experience of a white and/or cis individual.
The sense that now that I'm here (queer Latina) our team as a whole is 'diverse' and our work there is done. I sometimes feel tokenized or like others are using me as a shield.
Stop making the trans narrative about single topics, bathrooms, pronouns, health care. We are people first, not a topic.
Underrepresented groups (BIPOC and Trans and/or GNC) are half as likely than their counterparts to recommend other underrepresented members of the tech community to work at their company.
As we can see above, white and/or cis survey respondents not only feel that their companies are talking about D&I, they also feel that their companies are taking authentic steps to address it, while BIPOC and Trans and/or GNC again, disagree. What we can infer from this is that white and/or cis survey respondents may not fully understand the difference between talking about D&I and taking authentic steps because authentic steps would likely not affect their individual experiences to the same degree (if at all) as a BIPOC and Trans and/or GNC individual.
I'm tired of being the only Black person in the room. And I'm tired of hearing that it's because ‘there's not a lot of Black people in Seattle’ or ‘no Black grads apply’. It's BS.
Research shows that huge disparities in pay exist along race and gender lines and that when employees know their pay relative to others, they perform at higher levels. In spite of this, pay gaps persist and have stabilized over the past 15 years. An additional tragedy related to pay inequality is that our cultural narrative is centered on white women. While pay inequality is a problem regardless of who experiences it, Black, Latinx and Indigenous women are overwhelming and disproportionately affected.
Perpetuating a pay equality narrative that is not centered on the lowest paid individuals is a form of erasure and is a tactic of white feminism.
said their company has a transparent salary policy
said salaries ARE comparable for all genders
believe they are paid fairly
Lacking a transparent salary policy propagates pay inequality
As the data has shown us, the tech industry is predominantly lead and managed by white men. Though the numbers of white women are paltry in comparison, with 14% at the professional level, 18% at the manager level and 15% at the executive level, their numbers far outpace those of Latinx and Black women, which both hover well below 2% in all three categories, significantly lower than the general population of these individuals. This means that the experiences of individuals in the tech industry cannot be cut only across gender lines. As such, when we analyzed the data by race and gender identification, we were surprised to find that white and/or cis individuals were answering “yes” to the following questions with higher frequency than BIPOC and Trans and/or GNC individuals. After further investigation, we uncovered that the questions asked in the survey were centered around the white woman’s experience, which inadvertently failed to uncover the “realities” that others face. The important takeaway here is that the “struggle” is not the same for everyone and when one asks questions centered around the white experience—like we did— one fails to surface the experiences of BIPOC individuals, again, perpetuating a narrative that only applies to white individuals.
I wish I would stop getting hit on at work.
People need to stop asking where I’m really from.
Treat harassment as an existential threat whose destructive potential is as severe as an IT security breach. Scrutinize your organization’s culture and processes for vulnerabilities that harassers can exploit to their advantage.
respondents reported harassment in their workplace.
experienced retaliation after reporting harassment.
Cisgender women are more likely than trans and/or gender non-confirming respondents to have experienced retaliation for reporting harassment.
of all respondents who experienced harassment said it was handled “not so well” or “not well at all”.
I think we need to change the idea of an Ally from someone who doesn't do the wrong thing, to someone who stands up and intervenes when they see someone else doing the wrong thing.
Investigations should be run by outside, independent groups.
I think more diverse voices involved in setting policy would be good. Too often, policies are made by people who are already in positions of power and fail to take into consideration other experiences.
Share this data broadly, including sharing it at your workplaces. If you’d like someone from PDXWIT to present the data, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The State of the Community survey was a collaboration between PDXWIT, SurveyMonkey, Ilana Davis LLC and (re)solution lab. The survey was launched in early May 2019 and remained open for over three weeks. It was distributed organically through community members via internal slack groups, mailing lists and social media. 5,273 people responded to the survey, which is more than 6.5x of last year.
Profile of the respondents:
Founded in 2012, PDXWIT is a 501c3 non-profit that exists to encourage those who identify as women, non-binary and underrepresented to join tech and support and empower them to stay in tech. What started out as a small group of 15 women meeting socially at a local bar has turned into a highly-engaged and active community of over 6500 people–inclusive of allies–which represents nearly 30% of Portland’s tech workforce.
PDXWIT works hard to be as inclusive as possible of all individuals and welcomes and affirms non-binary and trans people as a matter of principle. The organization has partnered with over 100 tech companies, over 60 of whom are providing ongoing support of the organization as sponsors.
PDXWIT provides over 60 free educational and networking events to over 2000 individuals annually as well as professional development scholarships, support for job seekers, and meaningful mentorship.