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The most high profile cases of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the tech sector seem to come from Silicon Valley. However data suggest the industry has a pressing diversity problem in the UK too.
There are more women police officers, barristers, chefs and accountants in Britain as a proportion of their industry totals than there are developers, according to research carried out by the British Computer Society’s Chartered Institute for IT in 2015. That is the last time any meaningful research was conducted.
And according to a study by Diversity VC, a non-profit organisation, less than a third of employees at UK venture capital firms are women, compared with 45 per cent in the US.
Companies have slowly begun to realise the extent of the problem. Technology professionals are not always employed by tech companies so until now it has been difficult to accurately assess inequality in the profession.
However on Thursday, eighty nine of the UK’s biggest employers of IT staff committed to sharing recruitment and gender pay gap data for their tech employees as part of an initiative called the Tech Talent Charter.
The initiative, which was first launched two years ago with little success, has now attracted technology, media, telecoms and professional services signatories with almost 400,000 employees, including BT, Cisco, Deloitte, PwC, HP, Dell and the BBC.
Many of the biggest technology companies are notably absent from the list, however. Whether or not they sign up could be crucial. In the words of digital minister Matt Hancock, can you catch all the fish if you fish in half the pool?
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Flying low. Rovio Entertainment lost a fifth of its market value after the Finnish gaming company behind the popular smartphone game Angry Birds swung to third-quarter losses in its first results as a public company. (FT)
Uber hack. EU regulators will decide next week whether to coordinate investigations into the data breach that compromised information belonging to 57m Uber passengers and drivers. The UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Poland have launched separate probes into the company’s failure to report the breach. (FT)
More sexual harassment. John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, is taking a leave of absence following allegations of inappropriate behaviour toward employees. The Pixar co-founder, one of the most powerful figures in animation, is the latest public figure to be accused of misconduct in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which has extended from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, Washington and Westminster. (FT)
Fake news and Facebook. Facebook is rolling out a website to help users work out whether they followed a page or liked an Instagram account that may have come from “bad actors who try to undermine our democracy”. Social media companies have come under increasing pressure after it emerged that 150m Americans saw political content published by Russian entities in the two years before the 2016 US presidential election. (NYT)
Control freaks. Co-founders of big technology companies have been selling stock of late. The Economist looks at the ownership and voting rights of Alibaba, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Tencent, Tesla and Softbank. Are they control freaks? Or control fanatics? (Economist)
Tech tools you can use – Oculus Rift
Tech tools you can use – Oculus Rift price cut
The folks at Cnet have spotted that Facebook has cut prices on its virtual reality gadgets. You can get its Rift and Touch controllers at $349 this week – down $50 from its previous discount in October. You get a headset, two wireless controllers, two room sensors and seven games and apps. More here.