Number of women on staff == "Best Place To Work" ?

I've read countless "Best Place to Work" lists over the years, and usually happy to find Sun on those lists (and knowing when it was missing that the people compiling the list obviously asked the wrong questions if they missed a wonderful company like this one).

The latest list I saw today, posted on Brazen Careerist's site, took a different approach - while specifically looking for companies that would be attractive to Gen Y (aka Millennials) - the looked at companies that offered a lot of flexibility. Realizing that nearly every company now-a-days self reports as being very flexible, the authors decided to use the metric of number of women employed being close to at least 50%.The rationalization was that women wouldn't tolerate a company that didn't offer true flexibility.

My first response was, "Cool! Who doesn't want to work with more women?!", and then I remembered that my teams have always been the exception (often with near 50% women, and never an all white team) - not sure why that is, are women just more attracted to security?  But I digress...I know my personal experience is not the norm.

Sun wasn't on that list. In fact, only two tech companies (Google & Yahoo) were, and I realized, that's probably because the saturation of women in technology is nowhere near 50%, so even tech companies that are very flexible and have "lots" (as a relative term) of women would not have qualified for this list.  What do you think? Should we be using a different metric for gender equality for tech companies? or just hope that the trend reverses and women start joining the tech force in droves?

Sun is a fantastic place to work and very flexible, btw, as recognized by many other lists - and by me :)

Comments:

I don't think that the metric of the percentage of women working at a company is even an appropriate measure of the completely different attribute of flexibility. I feel that this is unfair to both genders and perpetuating an idea of women needing to have a flexible schedule to be able to take care of things outside of work, but it's ok for men to have a rigid schedule because they don't need to take care of things outside of work.

I also don't believe we should be using different numbers for gender equality metrics for tech companies because that would imply special treatment and that the lack of women in the technology field is ok, which it's not. With that being said, gender metrics should not be a deciding factor for scheduling metrics, which I view as two independent measurements.

Although a 50/50 workforce of men and women would be a boon, having 50% women in a particular company shouldn't be a prerequisite to be on the list. I would hope that more goes into the thought and scoring process for deciding what makes a company great to work for.

Posted by Ed on December 16, 2009 at 09:19 AM PST #

Hey Ed -

I mostly agree on your comment about flexibility.. the Womenomics authors found that women do drive the flexibility in the workplace (and employers will make themselves more flexible to attract women), BUT men take advantage of the flexibility just as much and then don't want to change jobs to a place that is less flexible :-)

And number of women in a workplace is tricky measure - I would certainly feel uncomfortable in a company where women made up less than 10% of the employees, but 50%? It would be WONDERFUL, but not a requirement for me.

Posted by Valerie on December 17, 2009 at 09:14 AM PST #

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