When Missy Young, now an executive vice president at Las Vegas data company Switch, was 12, she remembers her mother “banging her head against the glass ceiling” as the only female vice president at a bank.
She was paid $50,000 per year less than her male colleagues.
“That’s not fair,” Young told her mother at the time. “You should make a lot of noise about it.”
“That’s the way things are,” her mother responded.
Young, now 44, works in technology, an industry dominated by men. While women make up 59 percent of the U.S. labor force, women hold only about 22 percent of leadership positions in the country’s top tech companies, according to company diversity reports.
That’s not the case at Switch, where half of the company’s 14 top executives are women. Several hold high-level technical positions, including having chief responsibility for construction and engineering.
“I’d say we’re a little odd,” said Kristi Overgaard, Switch’s vice president of marketing.
Although the company declined to disclose statistics for companywide gender distribution in technical versus nontechnical jobs, a boardroom with gender parity is rare, even outside of tech.
The three Switch executives interviewed for this story said credit for the company’s balance among its highest-ranking executives belongs to the company’s CEO rather than any official initiative to promote gender equity.
Overgaard said by prioritizing talent and creating a meritocratic work environment, Switch founder Rob Roy created a company culture in which gender is irrelevant.
Roy “doesn’t walk through life going, ‘Are they male or female?’ ” Overgaard said. “He walks through life looking for, or seeing, innate talent. ‘Can this person problem solve? Can this person lead? Can this person communicate? Can they get results?’ ”
Experts say tech’s gender problems stem from a web of factors, including — but hardly limited to — workplace environment. The industrywide imbalance begins much earlier, with education and perception of what constitutes appropriate work for women.
Read the rest of Daniel’s story at vegasinc.com.