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The New Yorker Examines Board Diversity

In the July 11 issue of the New Yorker, Ken Auletta authored an article looking at the lack gender diversity on the boards of the country's most prominent high tech companies.  Auletta concludes that the gender diversity is not only lacking on the boards of older companies in more mature industries, but also extends to the most innovative and cutting edge companies as well.

Among the hottest new companies- Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, Groupon, Foursquare-none, as Kara Swisher reported in the blog All Things Digital, has a female director on its board. PayPal has no women on its five-member board; Apple has one of seven; Amazon one of eight; Google two of nine.

This lack of gender diversity is not limited to Silicon Valley's technology firms alone, however.  Most of the "venture-capital firms that support new companies have even sharper imbalances; Sequoia Partners lists eighteen partners on its Web site, none of them women."

Though this article is focused on gender diversity in the country's most innovative technology firms, the reasons for the scarcity of women amongst its boards and executives is not entirely different than in the financial, manufacturing and other sectors.  When Auletta asked the Facebook founder about gender diversity on his company's board, Mark Zukerberg replied,  "We have a very small board." He went on, "I'm going to find people who are helpful, and I don't particularly care what gender they are or what company they are. I'm not filling the board with check boxes." 

The New Yorker article is an interesting case study of Sheryl Sandberg, who rose impressively through the ranks of business, and now serves as Chief Operating Officer at Facebook.  The article uses Sandberg's experiences as a case study, and excellent counterpoint, to illustrate the challenges women face in moving through the ranks in the high tech business world. 

The full text of the New Yorker article, "A Woman's Place: Can Sheryl Sandberg upend Silicon Valley's male-dominated culture?" is available at: