I’ve been lucky enough to get the chance to work with some amazing developers, CEOs, investors, and leaders in the Portland tech community. And, in my experience, some of the strongest voices have been women. But my experience belies the ratios that drive the businesses of our community.
So just how many women are there in the Portland tech startup scene? For such a loaded question, Ruth Brown at Willamette Week has managed to take an objective look at the diversity in the Portland startup scene.
A survey of 11 recent Portland tech startups, ranging from companies with four employees to 80, reveals that their total workforces were typically 70 percent to 80 percent male, while their development and engineering teams—i.e., the people who write the actual code—have even fewer women. In many cases, none.
Females are even scarcer in the open-source software community—people who work on free and open projects like Linux and Firefox—which is particularly active in Portland and which the Portland Development Commission cites as a major “strength” of the local software industry. According to a 2006 study funded by the European Union, about 1.5 percent of open-source contributors are women.
This is why it’s important to have more traditional media interested in what’s happening in the Portland startup scene. Because they have the time to dig into these stories.
Is it perfect? No. Is it inflammatory? Possibly. But long story short, this is a solid piece of journalism. And I’m interested to see the conversations it starts.
I’d encourage you to read the entire article.
[Full disclosure: I am working with Willamette Week on the Portland Digital eXperience event, this September.]