Blind “auditions” for tech industry could address gender gap

Posted on: July 21, 2014

“In 1970, the nation’s leading symphony orchestras faced a problem not unlike one that confounds Silicon Valley today,” writes Kristen Brown in Saturday’s (7/19) San Francisco Chronicle. “Women accounted for less than 5 percent of the musicians…. But by the mid-1990s, the number of women … had increased fivefold.… The shift occurred as orchestras began conducting blind auditions. … In Silicon Valley, women hold few technical positions at leading companies—just 17 percent at Google and 15 percent at Facebook…. The tech industry’s lagging number of women is tied to a deeply rooted cultural bias that suggests women just aren’t good at science and math…. Several studies have shown that the advent of double-blind scientific reviews … has significantly increased the number of works by female scientists accepted for publication.… ‘Blind auditions play an important role in attempting to make the hiring process for musicians a fair one,’ said Oliver Theil, a spokesman for San Francisco Symphony…. Today, about 40 percent of the Symphony is female.… There are many issues facing women in technology, but a gender-blind initial interview could solve at least one of them—and perhaps its effects would trickle down, making technology companies friendlier places for women to work and encouraging more women to pursue the field.”

Posted July 21, 2014