Racial, Gender Discrimination Remain Huge Issues in Tech

As part of Dice’s new Equality in Tech Report, we asked more than 9,000 technologists whether they’d experienced or witnessed discrimination during their careers. Their answers offer crucial insight into how racial and gender discrimination remain a problem for the technology industry. 

 Racial Discrimination in Tech  

For the purposes of our report, we defined discrimination as the practice of letting a person’s gender, race or skin color unfairly become a factor when deciding who receives a job, promotion, or other employment benefit. Discrimination is a form of social inequality. 

More than half of Black technologist respondents (55 percent) believe that racial inequality occurs frequently or very frequently in the tech industry. This is the highest of any group in the survey, followed by Hispanic/Latino(a) respondents (39 percent), Asian/Pacific Islander respondents (31 percent), White respondents (30 percent) and Asian Indian respondents (22 percent).   

When it comes to technologists who have experienced racial discrimination, Black respondents (48 percent) were also the most likely to have experienced racial discrimination than all other groups. This is followed by Hispanic/Latino(a) respondents (30 percent), Asian/Pacific Islander respondents (25 percent), Asian Indian Respondents (23 percent), and White respondents (9 percent).   

While the data confirms that racial discrimination remains an issue for many different racial groups in the tech industry, the ways that technologists of different races encountered discrimination vary. For Asian/Pacific Islander respondents, discrimination was most commonly witnessed in lack of promotional opportunities (32 percent), leadership opportunities (32 percent) and hiring (31 percent). For Asian Indian respondents, discrimination most impacted leadership opportunities (32 percent) and promotional opportunities (31 percent).  

Hispanic/Latino(a) respondents stated that they’ve predominantly witnessed discrimination in hiring (35 percent), salary and benefits (32 percent), promotional opportunities (32 percent) and leadership opportunities (32 percent). Black respondents were more likely to have witnessed all types of racial discrimination at a significantly higher level than all groups, with leadership opportunities (51 percent) and salary and benefits (50 percent) being the most common forms. Meanwhile, White respondents stated that they’ve witnessed discrimination at significantly lower rates than all other groups, with hiring (23 percent) as the most common response.   

Beyond calls for racial equality in the workplace, reports find that having a diverse workforce makes notable improvements in innovation, morale and collaboration. Diverse organizations are 1.7 times more likely to be an innovation leader in their market. A recent McKinsey study found that, in 2019, businesses in the top quartile for ethnic diversity outperformed those in the fourth quartile (i.e., low diversity) by 36 percent in profitability, up from 33 percent in 2017.  

According to our data, a majority of technologists of all demographic groups believe that a diverse workforce improves company morale, innovation and collaboration. Despite that trend, though, a smaller number of respondents still don’t believe that diversity leads to improvements. Companies clearly have some work when it comes to educating all employees in the benefits of a diverse workplace; by doing so, they may be able to make progress toward eliminating racial discrimination within their organizations.  

Gender Discrimination in Tech 

Gender discrimination, also known as sexual discrimination, is any action that specifically denies opportunities, privileges, or rewards to a person (or a group) because of gender.  

Women are vastly more likely to believe that gender inequality occurs in the tech industry. In fact, 58 percent of technologist respondents who identified as women stated they believe discrimination occurs frequently or very frequently, compared to 31 percent of men.   

When respondents were asked if they have experienced gender discrimination in the tech workplace, there’s an even larger contrast between those identifying as women and those identifying as men. Specifically, more than half of women respondents (57 percent) say that they have experienced some form of gender discrimination, drastically outnumbering the number of  respondents identifying as men who said the same (10 percent).   

When it comes to the types of discrimination witnessed in the tech industry, the data reveals significant differences between men and women. More than half of women respondents (53 percent) stated that they’ve witnessed discrimination in their salary or benefits, compared to only a quarter of men respondents who said the same (24 percent).   

Discrimination is also perceived as a factor when it comes to opportunities for career advancement. Specifically, 47 percent of women respondents said they’ve witnessed discrimination with leadership opportunities, 45 percent with promotional opportunities and 32 percent with project opportunities – more than double each respective response from male respondents. In an especially concerning development, 48 percent of women respondents said they’ve witnessed discrimination with regard to their technical abilities (in contrast, 24 percent of men respondents said the same). When it comes to technical careers, the perception that you lack tech skills can easily prevent you from obtaining vital jobs and promotions.   

Women and men generally agree that having a diverse workforce improves a company in myriad ways. For example, a majority of women and men believe that a diverse workforce improves morale (72 percent of women, 57 percent of men), innovation (71 percent of women, 57 percent of men) and collaboration (71 percent of women, 56 percent of men). Additionally, 45 percent of women and 34 percent of men believe that having a diverse workforce improves company profits.   

The perception of diversity’s positive impact on profits is supported by hard data. One Gartner study found that inclusive teams outperformed “gender-homogeneous, less inclusive teams” by an average of 50 percent; it also predicted that, over the next few years, 75 percent of organizations “with frontline decision-making teams reflecting a diverse and inclusive culture” will exceed their financial targets.   

Some of the nation’s biggest tech companies also believe strongly in this idea that diversity pays a real dividend when it comes to innovation and profits. For example, Apple has attributed much of its success to the inclusive nature of its teams. “Our recipe for success is simple,” the company wrote in one court filing. “Hire the best people, from the most diverse backgrounds. They will solve the most challenging technological problems. They will find new ways to connect to the broadest population and new ways to provide the best customer experience.”  

The benefits go beyond dollars and cents, though. Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion position themselves as brands that customers, employees, and job applicants all want to be associated with. Studies have shown that younger job-seekers, for instance, actively seek out companies that have robust diversity initiatives; in other words, making DE&I a priority today could ensure the strongest possible talent pipeline tomorrow.   

While businesses stand to benefit from increased diversity, equity and inclusion, our data showcasing both perceived and witnessed discrimination shows that there is much work to do in standardizing the hiring and encouraging the retention of a diverse workforce.  

Read Dice’s new Equality in Tech Report for more vital insights into diversity, equality and inclusion in the technology world, and help us keep the conversation going by sharing the report with your friends, family and network. 

20 Responses to “Racial, Gender Discrimination Remain Huge Issues in Tech”

  1. Dave Shick

    This IS terrible! Is doing NOTHING good for this country except causing more problems. In the last 30+ years I have worked FOR females, other races, and with females and ALL races. We all GOT ALONG VERY WELL. And now you are bringing this up which makes things worse and worse in this country.

    • Kevin Irwin

      Agreed! I have been doing this over 25 years and worked with people around the world and the only ‘racism’ I ever experienced was from Middle East countries that are embroiled in a war (probably because I am an USA citizen). Ergo, not a single peep was made about anyone regarding race or otherwise, other than one’s ability to DO THE JOB!

  2. There are other forms of discrimination besides race and gender. Age discrimination is just as prevalent, if not more so because we all age despite our race and gender. Exorbitant US health care premium costs based on age are one reason, but there are many other factors why we as a society shun the elderly. Discrimination may be against the law, but until justice actually exists for all, the discrimination will continue.

    • American.Renaissance

      Racial, gender, and age discrimination are for the most part myths:
      1) Lowering the labor pool increases labor costs
      2) Companies hire HR bimbos and labor lawyers to ensure there is no risk of discrimination or a subsequent lawsuit
      3) Even if one individual was a racist/sexist, hiring is performed by committee,
      4) Can anyone name ONE REASON why a company would discriminate? How would it benefit them?
      5) All hiring, promotion, and salary data are reviewed by the government and EEO organizations
      6) Does anyone actually think hiring managers meet and converse something like “Hey Bill, let’s not hire any blacks or women or older guys…”?

  3. I agree that this is nonsense. In IT no one cares about your race/sex (maybe age), it is more important that you are able to work well with others in your team and that you deliver on time and with good quality. Having a good attitude and less friction with teammates is important. Keep you political and socioeconomic agendas out of the workplace and I’m happy.

  4. Racist Monitor

    Race-baiting, unscientific stories like this one are written by either racist manipulators or weak-minded, brainwashed fools for the uninformed or unaccountable. It’s time to grow up and do something productive with your life. Quit blaming others because of your own inabilities or unwillingness to overcome barriers of all sorts that every adult must persevere to overcome and be successful in their own right. Not everyone gets or earns a trophy—only winners and individual achievers.

    In case your parents, or a coach or teacher never told you—No one likes be around a whiner and complainer. It’s not an attractive look and it won’t help one to win friends and influence others.

    You’re better than this.

  5. White Rabbit

    Um, how many genders are we talking about? Just the two that science says exists, apart from genetic abnormalities, or the 64 (last and still counting), sprouted by the liberals / progressives? Until we ALL agree on solid facts then any discussions on these types of topics is a waste of time.
    Yes, I’m white, male, conservative and utterly disgusted by our world being hijacked by freaks. Yes, you know who you are.

  6. Nathan Stiles

    There maybe racial / gender discrimination, on some scale, there certainly is; however, a survey like this proves nothing. The answers are going to be subjective, and perception is going to be biased based on what a person has been trained to look for. For example, my last company had 10% females in the IT engineering force. Yet, 50% of the leadership in the IT Engineering was females. Was this gender biased? Maybe. Maybe it was to counter surveys like this, maybe it wasn’t. Polls are just not facts.

  7. Scott Friedland

    Age discrimination is rampant; like finance and the law IT development is a aggressive environment where salaries are high and job performance is even higher. Unlike finance and the law you can’t effectively go into management. There seems to be no value placed on experience – it’s all about the certifications you have not about how many projects you delivered.

  8. “Racial, Gender Discrimination Remain Huge Issues in Tech” Nick bluntly states as a “fact”. He then goes on to show us how many people PERCEIVED that they’ve been discriminated against for salary, projects, promotions, and even code reviews. Yes, now you mention it, I also have been discriminated against for all of those things. Only problem is I’m a white, straight/cis, male. If I were black/female/gay/trans/hobbit, however, I would almost certainly perceive that ‘minorty’ status to be the main reason why I didn’t get the project/payrise/credit that I felt I was due. But as I have no minority badge I know that the reasons are more likely either down to me or just managers not having a clue what is going on rather than some unconscious (or otherwise) bias against anyone that doesn’t look like themselves!

  9. I’ve been in IT for > 30 years now and the only race/gender discrimination I have ever seen is favoring people based on their intersectionality score. As a manager/director, I have been ordered by HR to hire unqualified people only because of “diversity quota” and told to pass over the most qualified candidates because they were white males. Yet, according to HR’s own demographics, I had the most “diverse” group in the company, which I attribute to not caring about the checkboxes. I hire based on technical qualifications and won’t be pushed into this faux “diversity” based on some idiotic score where people get points for things like skin color or chromosomes.

    And, yes…. I’ve even lost multiple job opportunities because I’m the “white guy” – and was blatantly told so like it was a badge of honor. It sickens me that articles keep pushing the narrative that people like me get preferential treatment when it is usually the opposite.

  10. memls01

    I agree that a diverse workforce has advantages IF the same standards for hiring are applied for all. Then you have an environment that favors mutual respect plus possible advantages of different life experiences.

    Having varying standards according to “group” is a recipe for resentment and dysfunction.

  11. Stories like this make it seem like white, male managers walk around the office giving out promotions and raises and when they get to woman or person of color they look at them and just say “Nope”. Last year I was so happy to still have a job during covid that I decided to stop coasting, increase my effort and make myself as indispensable as possible. When review time came around my boss said “John, you crushed it last year”. I received the first significant raise in 10 years with the same company. The lesson… Work really hard, strengthen your weaknesses, and most importantly, rewards are based on merit.

  12. Jim Bendtsen

    The only appropriate response to this “woke” SJW propaganda is: Bullshit. I’ve been a sysadmin and systems engineer for 30 years, and watched as those who claim they’re “oppressed” were coddled and allowed to do less for the same or more pay, and let slide, so the company could appear politically correct. Do what you are supposed to do, or more, in IT, and every company will LOVE you.

  13. Another leftist (WaPo writer) pushing racism. If the left did not have racism, they would have no platform at all. Is there prejudice, of course. Always has been, always will be. But is it systemic, and as rampant as the left proclaims? Not in the world in which I live.
    I have spent MANY years working in various technologies, from nuclear, to telecom, to data storage and networking. I can say without hesitation that technology in general is one of the most diverse and non-discriminating industries on the planet. I have worked with and for people of ALL races and genders, without issue. When companies start hiring using a quota system, they and our country will begin the downward spiral.
    The only bias I ever encountered is age, and that one is out there waiting for all of you. The only way to escape that one is an early exit.

  14. This story seems to have triggered and angered various White people. “How dare they complain about how they are treated.” “They should be lucky we allow them to breathe or even have the freedom to speak.” Denial and pretending discrimination doesn’t exist is all good, when you are the beneficiary of it.