Does it really matter that there are fewer women in tech than men? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Michael Barnard, low-carbon innovation analyst, on Quora:

Does it really matter that there are fewer women in tech than men? Yes.

Ignoring everything else, 50% of all users of technology, purchasers of technology, and those impacted by technology, are women. When 50% of your user, consumer and impact base is from a specific and identifiable group of people, unless you are a serious monopoly, autocracy, or live in a world without media, you need to really understand and cater to that group if you want to maximize your growth.

You don't maximize your growth by intentionally pissing everyone in that group off.

I have a simple approach to determining whether something is sexist, racist or homophobic. I mentally substitute a historically subjugated subgroup for the referenced group in whatever I'm reading.

Looking at the Google memo, it's clear that if it were written about African Americans or coders who were Jewish, it would be completely unacceptable.

The best evidence is that there are some brain function differences between men and women, but they don't result in inferior performance on standardized, blind-assessed tests, the idiot memo from the Google coder notwithstanding, a desire to point at idiot male behavior patterns.

But let's take a statistical point of view. Google has about 72,000 employees as of 2016. The global population is about 7.5 billion, about 100,000 times larger. That's five orders of magnitude.

Ada Lovelace and the women who ran the computers which put a man on the moon prove that the top end of computational ability is about the same for men and women. Let's assume, just for the sake of argument, that there are more men who are capable of achieving that level, perhaps 5% of the world's populace compared to 4.9% of women.

That would mean that there would be about 375 million men with the right intellectual traits globally vs. 367.5 million women. The difference between Google's option of hiring 0.02% of men with the right attributes or 0.02% of women with the right attributes. It's a wash.

What if it were 1% and 0.9%? That turns out to be 75 million vs. 67.5 million, which means Google, one of the biggest and richest companies on earth, would have to get 0.1% of the best if they were all men or all women. Which would be easier? How about getting 0.05% of both?

In the context of a market which is 50% women, choosing to hire a larger portion of men when there is an overabundance of the right stuff in women even if you assume against evidence in a disparity of population competence is moronic.

That is, of course, disregarding the reality that the vast majority of jobs don't need top performers who bring 100% of their brains to work every day.

Arguments against women in the technology workforce fall apart from the science, fall apart from a growth perspective, and fall apart from the most cursory of assessments of the statistics of population capabilities.

Men who still believe that women are biologically inferior in technology are the people who have to be isolated from working with others due to their toxic beliefs. That makes them a liability in a cooperative intellectual environment.

Women belong in tech just as much as men. We're both required, just as the rest of the diversity set is required. Tech is for the human race, not just the ones with the dangly bits between their legs.

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Published on: Aug 31, 2017