Silicon Valley’s gender inequality is even worse than Wall Street’s

Boys’ club.
Boys’ club.
Image: AP/Bebeto Matthews
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The workplace culture that brought us pinstripe suits, “bro talk,” and The Wolf of Wall Street still outpaces Silicon Valley when it comes to gender representation, with the share of women in the workforce at big banks far ahead of most big tech companies. Women make up the majority of employees at three of the biggest US banks.

The big banks’ overall numbers don’t tell the whole story. In addition to male-dominated trading desks, universal banks like Bank of America and JPMorgan run large retail franchises and other operations where women traditionally comprise a larger share of the workforce. At tech companies, by contrast, male-dominated jobs like programming make up the bulk of employees. At Google, women hold 48% of non-tech jobs, but only 20% of tech roles.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEO) asks companies to file their diversity numbers each year. The report has a category, “other,” which includes sales, administrative workers, technicians, and service workers. The EEO confirms that tellers, sales representatives, assistants, secretaries, and administrative support fall within this category—women make up the majority of these roles at big banks. Traders and investment bankers fall within the “professional” designation, and these jobs are mostly held by men.

This is one of the reasons why universal banks have a larger overall share of women on staff than pure-play investment banks. It’s also why Amazon is an outlier among tech firms, given that engineering jobs comprise a relatively small part of its sprawling empire.

But no matter the industry, women struggle to break into the most senior roles. The comparison of big banks with tech giants is more mixed on gender diversity in executive roles. And they are all the same when it comes to female CEOs: none of them have one.