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Megan Smith Wants to 'debug' Tech's Diversity Problem

By NextGov.com

March 2, 2015

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The lack of representation of women and minorities in the U.S. technology sector is a problem Obama administration chief technology officer Megan Smith wants to solve.

For example, less than a third of workforces at major U.S. tech companies are women, according to a Bloomberg analysis last summer. Meanwhile, federal statistics estimate women hold only about 30 percent of information technology jobs government-wide, even though they compose about 44 percent of the federal employee pool.

Still, Smith is optimistic change is looming, especially in Silicon Valley, where the problem is often most pronounced. "Of all the industries, [tech is] an industry that is data-driven and it is innovative--and it moves fast once it sees what the problem is," she says. "And I think there's a waking up going on."

Smith says studies show a more diverse workforce leads to better products, companies, and financial performance, and it is the government's function to convene the various stakeholders together to work out a solution.

Code for Progress' Aliya Rahman sees a need for policy setting to encourage more diversity efforts, such as standardization of ways for measuring certain skill sets "that essentially handles risk mitigation both for the job seeker and the employer."

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