Women are hard to spot in Silicon Valley's executive ranks

While Silicon Valley is jumping again, with the doldrums that followed the dot-bomb already a distant memory, the boom has yet to have any impact on women in the tech industry. According to a study released today by the Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Davis, women are making absolutely no progress up Silicon Valleyâ''s corporate ladder. And thereâ''s been no change in the three years since the first study.

The Davis researchers looked at how women executives fared at 400 of Californiaâ''s largest companies. Those based in Silicon Valley came in last in about all metrics. Only nine percent have even one woman in their executive ranks; only seven percent have even one woman on their corporate boards. Statewide, by industry category, the electronics industry ranked last with 2.9 percent of executives being women, the semiconductor industry was barely a step ahead with 5.3 percent women. One surprise to me, since Iâ''ve always thought the power industry as the most macho of the electrical engineering fields, energy and utilities ranked near the top, with 14.1 percent of executives women.

The corporate ladder isnâ''t unfriendly to women at all electronics companies. Twenty-five percent of Hewlett-Packard's executives and board members are women. Cisco and Palm didnâ''t rank too badly, with 17.4 and 16.7 percent respectively. But at some Silicon Valley companies, the UC researchers couldnâ''t identify one women in the executive or board member ranks. Not one. Apple, Applied Signal, Borland, Cadence, JDS Uniphase, LSI, National Semiconductor, Synaptics, and Zoran, are among the Silicon Valley companies who have turned their executive suites into exclusive menâ''s clubs. Chides the study authors, â''Californiaâ''s largest public companies are missing an opportunity to bring a great diversity of perspectives, experiences, and viewpoints into their boardrooms and executive suites.â'' Itâ''s 2007, guys (and I guess I do mean guys), come on, Silicon Valley can do a lot better.

Advertisement

Tech Talk

IEEE Spectrum’s general technology blog, featuring news, analysis, and opinions about engineering, consumer electronics, and technology and society, from the editorial staff and freelance contributors.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Tech Alert newsletter and receive ground-breaking technology and science news from IEEE Spectrum every Thursday.

Advertisement