Study: Tech industry often denies job interviews to women

A study by Hired found improved but persistent bias in tech industry hiring. In 2022, 38% of positions sent interview invitations exclusively to men, down from 45% in 2018.

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Securing a tech industry job usually requires an interview. But according to a new study examining bias in the industry, many women and people of color don't get interview invitations.

Hired, a job-matching platform based in New York City, reported that interview invitations were sent exclusively to men in 38% of job opportunities last year. This number, though alarming, does reflect an improvement from 2018, when the figure stood at 45%. Hired surveyed 1,075 tech employees and job seekers.

Another finding is that white people have a better chance at an interview. In 2022, 12% of positions only sent interview requests to white job seekers. But that's an improvement from 26% in 2018.

Hired said the tech industry trends are encouraging, and nearly all the 229 hiring leaders surveyed said "they make efforts to ensure hiring decisions are free from bias."

But Hired's findings also suggest that much of the tech industry's workforce gender and racial disparities are self-inflicted, resulting from biased hiring. The tech industry's low percentages of women and Black Americans is well documented and slow to improve. Women make up less than a third of the tech industry, and Black Americans represent about 5% of the tech workforce, despite a U.S. population that is 13% Black.

There has been more dedicated focus between 2018 and now toward including a more representative set across races.
Josh BrennerCEO, Hired

"There has been more dedicated focus between 2018 and now toward including a more representative set across races," said Josh Brenner, CEO of Hired. But while the data is moving in the right direction, "the representation still remains an issue" for women and nonwhite individuals, he said.

Hired said it used an independent research firm to survey 229 technology hiring leaders, nearly 80% of whom worked in HR. Participants were vetted and compensated for their participation and kept anonymous. Hired also used survey response data from a random sample of 1,075 tech employees and job seekers who used Hired's career marketplace.

Tech industry hiring bias

Hiring bias against Black Americans in all industries has been documented by researchers.

According to Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, a sociology professor who heads the Center for Employment Equity at the University of Massachusetts, "the evidence for hiring bias against African Americans is very strong, and the level of bias has not gone down over the last 40 years."

"African Americans have to apply for more jobs to find one," Tomaskovic-Devey said. "For gender, the pattern is different. There is consistent evidence of bias against women for traditionally male jobs and against men for typically female ones."

Tomaskovic-Devey said labor shortages in recent years will have motivated some who discriminated in the past "to cast a wider net and make job offers to qualified African Americans and women of all races that they may have discriminated against in the past. It would be nice to think that social justice movements had a role as well."

For instance, "Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?" a 2003 study by researchers at the University of Chicago and MIT, found evidence of bias. It sent fictitious resumes to help wanted ads, assigning either an African American-sounding or white-sounding name. White names received 50% more callbacks for interviews, the researchers found.

Researchers at the University of California and the University of Chicago sent out more than 83,000 fictional applications to entry-level jobs at Fortune 500 employers for a 2021 study titled "Systemic Discrimination Among Large U.S. Employers." It found that "Black applicants received 21 fewer callbacks per 1,000 applications than white applicants."

The Hired survey also found that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) budgets in tech were being scaled back in 20% of organizations, which began last summer with the increase in tech layoffs. Another 12% said their DEI programs are at risk if economic conditions continue.

Hired also looked at wage gaps in the tech industry and found that Hispanic men, Black men, Hispanic women and Black women saw widening wage gaps in 2022, earning $0.97, $0.93, $0.92 and $0.90, respectively, for every $1 a white male counterpart earned.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget Editorial. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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