IT Industry is “Hostile to Women”

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Re/code recently interviewed Dr. Mary Lou Jepson, a Facebook/ Oculus Virtual Reality Executive and co-founder of One Laptop per Child. Jepson also co-developed one of the first holographic video systems, founded four startups, has written more than 100 journal articles, and holds more than 100 patents.

In the final video installment of Re/code’s “The 26%: Women Speak Out on Tech’s Diversity Crisis” video series, Jepson discusses her experience. She says that the industry isolates women, referring to her experience at her former employer, Google X, where all women occupying senior positions left the company.

Google is making an effort to improve diversity in leadership positions, for example, by letting employees spend up to 20% of their work hours working on improving the company’s diversity, but serious challenges persist for women in the industry. Jepson talks about how other companies, like Intel, are becoming increasingly transparent about their diversity programs, hiring women and minority candidates first when developing new teams.

Finally, Jepson mentions that women in tech will always be underestimated, but that “you’re remembered because you looked different.” She advises women in the industry to continue achieving things once considered impossible, citing criticism from major tech company CEOS of her One Laptop per Child plans which ended up making $30 billion in revenue for those same companies, and $1 billion for the non-profit with which she worked, while changing lives around the world.

Finally, she underscores the importance of integrating diverse perspectives in IT product development. Though the tech sector may be “hostile” towards women, as she describes it, women like Jepson are clearly making a critical impact on and improving the industry.

Source: Rachel Bracker, re/code, Vox Media, Inc.