Google Takes Scientific Approach to Finding Women

Between 2000 and 2011 the number of female tech employees at Google dropped by 8%, but male employees increased by 16%. To solve the mystery of women and how confusing their work habits are, Google has developed an algorithm to help. The company discovered that women do not promote themselves as much as men during phone interviews, and women are more likely to leave after having children.

To mitigate the women leaving after having children, Google increased maternity leave to 5 months! Now, don’t get me wrong, I would be totally stoked to have that much time off after having a baby, but I think it is a problem that men only get 7 weeks of paternity leave. I do appreciate that Google is trying to keep women in the field, but if we want to move forward as a society with women, we need to make the assumption that dads may want to be the stay at home caregiver as well. Things might change for the better if we let a father or a mother take a lengthy leave for a new baby. That’s just my opinion though.

4 responses to “Google Takes Scientific Approach to Finding Women

  1. I think part of the problem for the USA and parental leave is that when it was first argued in court those in favour of requiring leave did so on the basis of “disability.” Hence the 6 weeks of leave, which is among the lowest in the world. The ‘disability’ argument was used because the company arguing against required leave brought up “equality” arguments: they said that if men did not get the leave then in would violate anti-discrimination laws.

    In countries with more time for leave the argument was made directly for the importance of family bonding, not just the physical recovery of the pregnant parent. In that way the equality argument was met by simply extending the benefit to men. For example, in Canada both parents can get up to a year combined to bond with their new families, but the parent who was pregnant must take the first six weeks. After that they can divide it up as they please. Nevertheless, most mothers stay home and most fathers only take a few weeks (usually three to six just after the birth).

    It seems like “family bonding” arguments should be more popular in the family-values oriented USA than they are.

    In Sweden they require both men and women to take parental leave. And guess what, all of a sudden researchers in Sweden have started writing about business applicable skills one learns through parental leave (e.g. how to ‘read’ others, etc.). Some places in Canada (Quebec) are considering requiring split leave.

    Great post! Thanks!

    • Thanks for the input! You brought up some really great points. I find it interesting about the skills that you gain through parental leave. I really hope we can advance our system to one that allows both parents appropriate time off with a new family.

  2. I really wish that more conversations and initiatives to attract more women engineers/academics/employees, etc. were more broadbased and not 95% focused on babies and childrearing. Yes, many women decide to have children but many women also do NOT. That automatic assumption based on gender is insidious and unfair, both to women and to men who often happen to be parents. Honestly, I wish we could institute an allowance for “personal leave” for any employee, not just parents, to take to pursue other important life goals…could be a baby, could be finishing a novel, could be volunteering, etc. But that would mean actual commitment to work/life balance and employee retention.

    • It does seem like a lot of the conversations about women leaving the sciences or getting paid less tend to be a simple finger point at having babies. There are definitely other reasons women leave engineering jobs or never go into them (harassment, culture, etc.)

      I also like your idea of having personal leave for anyone at some point or another in a career. I like how many universities offer a sabbatical to professors, and I wish this were available in more career paths.

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