2019 State of the Community

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:

  • Open the survey up to a national audience
  • Expand the racial, ethnicity, gender and LGBTQ demographic questions
  • Layer in questions that identify experiences related to bigotry and racism

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 use terms such as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), GNC (Gender non-conforming) and Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) throughout the survey results.
  • While this is an impressive and meaningful data set, it is not a scientific survey.
  • The results focus on presenting characteristics, such as skin color and gender identification, as we feel these characteristics form the first hurdle related to oppression.

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:

  • As a company leader, particularly a leader from the dominant group (white and cis), use this data to set change into motion. Folks in this category make up the majority of individuals with influence and power in the tech industry, and the ability to make meaningful change will be up to you.
  • As an individual, particularly those within the dominant group (white and cis), use this data to educate those around you. If you feel safe and comfortable, talk to your leaders, co-workers and friends. Look for ways you can contribute to meaningful change and provide support. Most importantly, amplify and uplift folks who are not a part of the dominant group.
  • As an individual who is currently experiencing marginalization, oppression and/or harassment, we want you to know you are not alone. We understand it may not be possible to take outward action. If possible, document your experiences as it may be possible to take action later.

Share this data broadly, reference it often and join our movement.

The Culture

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.

Which of these describes how you experience your company’s culture?

3 in 10 said: Results Oriented, Getting Better / Improving, Inclusive, Caring
1 in 5 said: Diverse
1 in 5 said: Clique-based culture (a culture that rewards dominant groups, ex: bro-culture)
1 in 7 said: Toxic

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.

Does your employer talk about diversity and inclusion as a priority?

White: 63%, BIPOC: 30%, Cis Women: 59%, Trans and/or GNC: 27%, Cis Men: 50%

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.

Would you recommend someone from an underrepresented group in tech to work at your company?

White: 66%, BIPOC: 30%, Cis Women: 60%, Trans and/or GNC: 25%, Cis Men: 56%

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.

Do you feel your company is authentically taking steps to prioritize D&I?

White: 61%, BIPOC: 29%, Cis Women: 59%, Trans and/or GNC: 27%, Cis Men: 50%

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.

Pay Transparency

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.

Dollar sign with 35% filled

Only 35%

said their company has a transparent salary policy

Dollar sign with 33% filled


said salaries ARE comparable for all genders

Dollar sign with 31% filled


believe they are paid fairly

Lacking a transparent salary policy propagates pay inequality

If you found out you were underpaid relative to your co-workers, would you ask for a raise?

White: No, because I fear retaliation 7%, No, I would not ask for a raise 5%, Maybe I'd consider it 19%, Yes, I would like to but I am unsure of how to have that type of conversation 29%, Yes, Absolutely 41%. BIPOC: No, because I fear retaliation 19%, No, I would not ask for a raise 18%, Maybe I'd consider it 19%, Yes, I would like to but I am unsure of how to have that type of conversation 23%, Yes, Absolutely 21%. Cis Women: No, because I fear retaliation 8%, No, I would not ask for a raise 5%, Maybe I'd consider it 19%, Yes, I would like to but I am unsure of how to have that type of conversation 32%, Yes, Absolutely 36%. Trans and/or GNC: No, because I fear retaliation 21%, No, I would not ask for a raise 18%, Maybe I'd consider it 17%, Yes, I would like to but I am unsure of how to have that type of conversation 23%, Yes, Absolutely 21%. Cis Men: No, because I fear retaliation 8%, No, I would not ask for a raise 11%, Maybe I'd consider it 21%, Yes, I would like to but I am unsure of how to have that type of conversation 18%, Yes, Absolutely 41%.

The Realities of Working in Tech

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.

Which of the following have you experienced?

Your ideas were ignored, overlooked or unattributed

White: 48%, BIPOC: 16%, Cisgender: 41%, Trans and/or GNC: 13%

You were leaned on to be the group supporter/counselor/admin, even though it is not part of your assigned job duties

White: 33%, BIPOC: 13%, Cisgender: 29%, Trans and/or GNC: 10%

You felt gendered language was used that did not include you

White: 27%, BIPOC: 13%, Cisgender: 24%, Trans and/or GNC: 12%

You were asked to order lunches or schedule events, even though it is not part of your assigned job duties

White: 22%, BIPOC: 14%, Cisgender: 21%, Trans and/or GNC: 13%

You were told you were not the right fit for a role because of experience

White: 23%, BIPOC: 13%, Cisgender: 23%, Trans and/or GNC: 13%

You were told you were too aggressive at work

White: 23%, BIPOC: 11%, Cisgender: 20%, Trans and/or GNC: 11%

You felt racist language, anecdotes or references were made

White: 18%, BIPOC: 14%, Cisgender: 17%, Trans and/or GNC: 12%

Was asked or tasked with doing diversity work even though it wasn't part of your job description

White: 16%, BIPOC: 12%, Cisgender: 16%, Trans and/or GNC: 12%

You were excluded from important work events

White: 18%, BIPOC: 11%, Cisgender: 16%, Trans and/or GNC: 10%
I wish I would stop getting hit on at work.

People need to stop asking where I’m really from.

The Realities of Workplace Harassment

Have you experienced any form of harassment at work?

In the last 12 months

Yes: 30%, No: 45%, Prefer not to answer: 25%

More than 12 months ago

Yes: 37%, No: 38%, Prefer not to answer: 25%

That's 1 in 3 people

What form[s] of harassment have you experienced at work in the last 12 months?

Skin Color, Race/ethnicity, Political beliefs, Gender, Cognitive ability, Inappropriate sexual discussion, Marital status, Gender expression, Mental ability, Physical appearance, Pregnancy, Age, Gender identification, Unwanted sexual advances, Physical ability, Veteran status, Sexual orientation, Religious beliefs, and National origin.
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.

The Realities of Reporting Harassment

What was your experience?

In the last 12 months...

3 in 10

respondents reported harassment in their workplace.

3 out of 10 people

Of those...

3 in 10

experienced retaliation after reporting harassment.

3 out of 10 people

Cisgender women are more likely than trans and/or gender non-confirming respondents to have experienced retaliation for reporting harassment.

sad face filled 42% of the way


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.

Those who experienced harassment in the last 12 months, who was the harasser?

Peer: 21%, Potential or current customer / client: 14%, Employee who reports to you: 11%, Supervisor / Manager you report to (People in Power): 18%, Supervisor / Manager you do not report to (People in Power): 18%, Executive (People in Power): 15%, Investor (People in Power): 11%, None of these: 11%

Respondents By Race

Peer: (All: 21%, White: 44%, BIPOC: 15%), Potential or current customer / client: (All: 14%, White: 15%, BIPOC: 13%), Employee who reports to you: (All: 11%, White: 5%, BIPOC: 12%), Supervisor / Manager you report to:(All: 18%, White: 33%, BIPOC: 14%), Supervisor / Manager you do not report to: (All: 18%, White: 23%, BIPOC: 16%), Executive: (All: 15%, White: 18%, BIPOC: 14%), Investor: (All: 11%, White: 6%, BIPOC: 12%)

Respondents By Gender

Peer: (All: 21%, Cis Women: 42%, Trans and/or GNC: 16%, Cis Men: 19%), Potential or current customer / client: (All: 14%, Cis Women: 15%, Trans and/or GNC: 12%, Cis Men: 9%), Employee who reports to you: (All: 11%, Cis Women: 6%, Trans and/or GNC: 13%, Cis Men: 6%), Supervisor / Manager you report to:(All: 18%, Cis Women: 33%, Trans and/or GNC: 13%, Cis Men: 18%), Supervisor / Manager you do not report to: (All: 18%, Cis Women: 25%, Trans and/or GNC: 16%, Cis Men: 18%), Executive: (All: 15%, Cis Women: 19%, Trans and/or GNC: 13%, Cis Men: 19%), Investor: (All: 11%, Cis Women: 4%, Trans and/or GNC: 14%, Cis Men: 10%)
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.

Next Step

No matter where you live, you can join our movement!

  • 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 hello@pdxwit.org.

  • Volunteer with us - see how you can get involved.

  • Follow and amplify us on social.

  • Join our Slack group and view the #AskaFriend and #Diversity_Inclusion channels to provide or seek support.

  • Support our work by donating to us.


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:

  • Gender Identity: Cisgender Women 27%, Cisgender Men 12%, Transgener Women 8%, Transgender Men 8%, Genderqueer 7%, Non-binary 7%, Gender Non-Conforming 7%, Agender 7%, Not listed 8%, Prefer not to answer 9%
  • 54% in Portland, OR and 37% elsewhere, 9% Prefer not to answer
  • 80% members of PDXWIT
  • 42% employed, 20% self-employed, 11% looking for work
  • 46% have worked in tech 6+ years
  • 60% hold a college degree
  • 56% in the 25-64 age bracket
  • Race/Ethnic Identity: African 5%, Black or African American 6%, Alaskan Native 5%, Arab 5%, Asian 6%, Asian Indian 6%, Hispanic 6%, Indigenous American 5%, Latinx 6%, Middle Eastern 5%, Mixed Race 6%, Native Hawaiian 5%, North African 5%, Pacific Islander 5%, White 26%, Prefer not to answer 6% (note: respondents could select more than one option)

About Portland Women in Tech

PDXWIT is advancing inclusion in Portland’s tech industry.

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.