A professor at University of Waterloo’s Sauder School of Business and a prominent expert on gender and discrimination has developed a statistical explanation of why men in tech are less likely to have a female co-worker than women.
Women are more likely to be treated more harshly in the workplace and to be less likely than men to be promoted, she said.
“The way you would think is that women are less competent, more likely not to get promoted and they have less power.”
The University of Toronto’s Dr. Anne Bevan, a professor of organizational behavior, said her research suggests that “women tend to be judged less harshly than men.”
Dr. Bevan’s study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.
Her findings were based on data collected by her team, which asked 1,000 Canadian women and 1,200 men what they thought of their boss and colleagues, including how often they were called names or told that they were “crazy” and “shallow.”
They also compared how often people felt “unsafe” at work, such as being called “insensitive” or “crazy.”
Dr Bevan said the findings showed women are discriminated against more often at work.
“Women were discriminated against, and they were not treated fairly, and that was particularly the case in the tech industry,” she said in an interview.
“There was a lot of evidence that the way that women were treated was less than men, so the fact that women had to take more and more time out of the day to do that was really a disservice to women.”
When she took her team to task, the women said they were being “treated unfairly” and that they “felt like they were under attack from a male colleague.”
When the women and men had their own experiences, Dr Bevan found that men were more likely than women to be called “crazy,” and to feel “unsightly,” and were “dismissed more frequently than women.”
“Women are judged more harshly and to a lesser degree than men in terms of being treated unfairly, and women were also more likely that they felt that they weren’t getting promoted,” she explained.
“And that, of course, is why women are more inclined to be dissatisfied with their work experience.”
In the United States, the number of female employees at tech firms is projected to rise from about 12 million today to almost 18 million in 2023.
Women have historically been underrepresented at the tech companies, and some tech leaders, such Apple CEO Tim Cook, have criticized companies for not hiring more women.
Dr Beevan, who has also worked at other tech companies including Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, said that her research provides a “scientifically grounded” explanation for why female employees are discriminated less at work and at universities.
“We’re looking at things that are a little bit like a game theory approach.
And it’s a game that you can actually apply to a lot more areas of life,” she added.
Dr. Beevan said that the research, which is still in the preliminary stages, also highlights the need for greater equality in tech.
“You know, the world is full of inequities, and it’s important that we work together to make sure that we treat people with fairness and dignity, because we all have a right to equal opportunity,” she told CNBC.