Why Microsoft's Diversity Ad "Girls Do Science" Is Offensive to Women

It All Boils Down to Practicing What You Preach

Microsoft Logo

A sponsored advertisement for Microsoft popped up in Facebook on my personal feed this morning. I clicked because the ad said we needed to encourage more young girls in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.  The ad was a high-quality video that was thought provoking and intended to encourage young girls and make the rest of us think about ways to do that.

Below the video ad were the following words: "7 out of 10 girls are interested in science.

Only 2 out of 10 will pursue it as a career.  let's change that.  #IWD2015"

The hashtag used (which promotes Microsoft's own ad) is for International Women's Day 2015.

I tracked down the video on YouTube, so you can watch the full ad for yourself.  It is lovely.  The YouTube ad had a lot more words to help explain the purpose of their (clever marketing) video:

"7 out of 10 girls are interested in science. Only 2 out of 10 will pursue it as a career. Let’s change that. Through the voices of these girls, we celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History month. We support the bright young women who participated in this project and all girls who share our belief in the empowering nature of science and technology."

Click to Watch Microsoft's "Girls Do Science" Video

You are also invited to learn more about how great Microsoft is:

"Microsoft is committed to creating opportunities for all youth. DigiGirlz is a Microsoft YouthSpark program that gives girls the opportunity to learn about careers in tech. Learn more about it here: http://msft.it/digigirlz."

Looking at their Global Diversity and Inclusion website, I wanted to applaud Microsoft for their impressive list of programs aimed to improve diversity within including networks and resources specifically for peoples of various races and cultures, as well as a group for parents and one for, yes, women.

As a woman in a male dominated industry, I have seen inclusion programs in writing that were not in actual practice.  So, as any decent writer must do, I had to check out the bohemeth company's own track record for diversity before applauding them.

What I Found Out About Microsoft's Own Internal Diversity

Uh oh.  Not good for Microsoft.

The "Facts About Microsoft" web page on their own site tells a completely different story that does not include diversity.

Business Functions:  3 women hold key business positions out of 7 listed.  Peggy Johnson leads the Business Development Group, Amy Hood is the head of finance, and Kathleen Hogan heads of the human resources department.

Engineering Groups:  0 (as in zero, zilch, zip) women are heading engineering groups at Microsoft (as of December 31, 2014, the last time the page was updated.)

Here's where it gets even worse.  The following breaks down their global workforce by gender and race:

  • Male:  70.8%
  • Female:  29.1%
  • Caucasian:  60.2%
  • Asian:  28.9%
  • African American/Black:  3.5%
  • Hispanic/Latino:  5.2%
  • American Indian/Alaska Native:  0.5%
  • Native Hawaii/Pacific Islander:  0.3%

Microsoft And the "2 Out of 10"

Only 2 out of 10 serving on Microsoft's board of directors are female (interestingly, that supports "only 2 out of 10 will pursue it as a career" numbers):

Maria M. Klawe, President Harvey Mudd College - A brilliant woman with a long list of impressive STEM related credentials.

Teri L. List-Stoll, Former Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Kraft Foods Groups, Inc. 

Remember those words below the add "7 out of 10 girls are interested in science. Only 2 out of 10 will pursue it as a career.  let's change that.  #IWD2015"

Until companies like Microsoft actually hire women in STEM fields in greater numbers that they do now, education is not enough. 

I challenge Microsoft to watch its own video and take a more active role internally to change the statistics they find appalling within its own ranks.

Microsoft Tops The List of Least Diversified Big Tech Companies

In closing, I do want to state that Microsoft is rated highly by its employees as a great place to work, and, it is far from being alone when it comes down to failing in the diversity department.

  But it is ranked as the worst when it comes to diversity in a list of the top ten "biggies" in the tech field, and as you can see from the list below some tech companies have made plenty of room for women.

In order of least to most male-dominated tech companies Microsoft ranks as the worst offender:

  1. Indiegogo  (55% male; 45% female)
  2. eBay (58% male; 42% female)
  3. LinkedIn (61% male; 39% female)
  4. Yahoo! (62% male; 37% female)
  5. Hewlett Packard (67% male; 33% female)
  6. Apple  (70% male; 30% female)
  7. Facebook (69% male; 31% female)
  8. Google (70% male; 30% female)
  9. Twitter (70% male; 30% female)
  10. Microsoft (71% male; 29% female).

What bothers me about the "Girls Do Science" campaign is that Microsoft is trying to change its outward appearance, that is, peoples' perceptions, but with 128,000 employees world-wide, they have a long way to go when it comes to diversity.