The Tilted Playing Field: Hidden Bias in Information Technology Workplaces

The Tilted Playing Field: Hidden Bias in Information Technology Workplaces report was released September 2011. The report reveals that hidden biases within the workplace can produce unequal opportunities and outcomes for employees depending on their race and gender. This study reports on data collected from a sample of IT engineers and managers in large companies and small startups nationwide.  Use hashtag #HiddenBiasIT to join the discussion on Twitter.

The report has three significant findings:

(1)   IT workplace experiences vary significantly by race and gender.

  • Women and underrepresented people of color encounter negative workplace experiences (e.g, difficulty balancing work/family, exclusionary cliques, bullying) at rates significantly higher than their male and white counterparts.
  • Being a woman and/or underrepresented person of color predicted the likelihood of experiencing negative workplace incidents.

(2)   Negative workplace experiences lead to increased turnover in IT roles.

  • Underrepresented people of color were least satisfied with their job, least satisfied with skill development opportunities, and most likely to leave the company in the upcoming year.
  • As the number of negative work experiences reported by individuals across the study increased, the level of satisfaction with their current job and likelihood to remain with that company significantly decreased.

(3)   Diversity is not a priority for gatekeepers, despite a talent shortage and high cost of employee turnover.

  • Despite vast underrepresentation of women and people of color in IT, 68% of the sample indicated satisfaction with their company’s diversity efforts.
  • However, men and women in startups differed drastically in their satisfaction with their company’s diversity efforts. And underrepresented people of color were nearly twice as likely as whites to be in favor of a company-wide practice to increase diversity (80% compared to 46%).

Download the report

Download the Executive Summary

Download the press release

Download the Open Letter to the Tech Community