Although many California tech companies have pledged to make their executive boardrooms more diverse, a new study by the University of California, Davis, suggests that they have a long way to go when it comes to women.
Researchers at the university compiled a list (PDF) of major California companies with the highest percentage of women among directors and high-paid executives; Williams-Sonoma topped the list, with 57.1 percent women leaders. Although Zendesk (which builds customer-support software) came in seventh with 40 percent, no major tech firm placed especially high on the list—Yahoo ranked fourteenth, Hewlett-Packard twentieth, and Netgear twenty-second.
That being said, the software segment boasted the greatest proportion of women directors (15.5 percent) among all industries surveyed. And the overall percentage of women directors, executives, and CEOs at California’s 400 largest public companies has, in aggregate, crept upward over the past few years, particularly among directors and highest-paid executives (PDF). In the image above, provided in the university’s report, you can see the percentages from 2006 onwards.
Tech companies’ efforts to bring more women into their ranks have included adjustments to recruiting routines. Despite that, some executives remain pessimistic about the chances of integrating more women into top positions. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, for example, thinks it could take decades to achieve true gender equality in the C-suite.
“Our research reveals that despite modest improvements since 2012, women remain underrepresented at every corporate level,” she wrote in a September op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. “And it turns out the drop-off in senior ranks is not mainly due to attrition.” Rather, she blamed the disparity on “more barriers to advancement.”
Around three-quarters of the companies surveyed by Sandberg’s LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co. said that gender diversity was a “top-three or top-ten priority” for their company’s CEO. But it will take time for greater gender equality to become a reality in boardrooms.