Tell Facebook to Bring Women To The Table

Fifty-eight percent of Facebook users are women. Sixty-two percent of shares on Facebook are done by female users. How many women are on Facebook’s board of directors?

Zero.

For such an innovative brand, Facebook is distinctly behind the times when it comes to gender equity. Only 11.3 percent of Fortune 500 companies had male-only boards last year. GoogleMicrosoft and LinkedIn each have at least one woman on their boards. A recent survey of Fortune 500 companies found that those with three or more women board members outperformed those with fewer or none, achieving an average of 53 percent greater return on equity. Why wouldn’t a man as intelligent as Mark Zuckerberg adopt a business strategy that could increase his profits by half?

The omission is all the more surprising given that Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, is an outspoken advocate for gender equality in the top tiers of business. She recently commented that women have made progress “in every industry … except at the top, where, essentially, over the last 10 years, there hasn’t been progress.” Yet the very company she works for perpetuates this trend.

Perhaps it has something to do with the cult of the male geek in the tech world. In the current issue of Ms., Laura Sydell’s article “Women of the Valley” notes the lack of attention paid to high-achieving women in tech—even those who have taken their companies or products to the top—in contrast to the hero-worship of their male peers. We can all identify Mr. Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, but who knows what Sarah Allen, one of the leading developers for Shockwave and subsequent developer for Flash Player, looks like? Where’s the biopic of Marissa Mayer, Google’s first female engineer?

Men will continue to dominate the tech industry unless consumers agitate for change. Fortunately, in this case, you can use the power of the Internet to sock it to Facebook. The young feminists over at Ultra Violet have launched a campaign to get at least one woman on “board” at Facebook. It wouldn’t be gender equity, but it’s a first step.

Join the campaign by signing this petition telling Facebook to get with the times. Remind the boys at the top: Women are good for business, and the companies that succeed know it.

Photo from Flickr user Geoff Livingston via Creative Commons 3.0.

Join Ms. now to get the current issue–with Laura Sydell’s article “Women of Valley”–straight to your door!

Comments

  1. Hi, thanks for the mention. One small, yet important correction: I led the development of Flash video in 2000-2002, under Jonathan Gay who was then a VP. In 1995, Jon was the original engineer on the Flash Player — at the time I was one of 4 engineers developing Shockwave. Not sure who is leading Flash Player development these days.

    If you want to see what I look like and read other profiles of technical women in the industry check out: http://techfemme.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/sarah-allen/

    Thanks for the great Ms. coverage of this important topic.

    Sarah

  2. Thanks, Sarah – we have updated the blog post accordingly. Thank you for sharing more information about yourself and letting us see the female face of technology. Please keep up the great work!

  3. Great stuff! There’s another campaign going on, too. I wonder if they can cooperate. It’s called FACE IT and the website is at http://www.faceitcampaign.com

    Just as a modest supplement to your fine article, I could note that I’ve tried, too, to give Sheryl Sandberg a nudge, suggesting that she should use her clout to really force Zuckerberg’s hand. Yes, working from within is good, but how long does one try before moving on. I think a threat on her part to leave would immediately lead to change. I wrote about that in:

    Why Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg must resign, at http://bit.ly/zdfcPC

    And then followed up on some of the comments I received by writing:

    Sex, war and boardrooms: Sheryl Sandberg as a modern day Lysistrata, at http://bit.ly/H0UZiV

    (Parenthetically, the latter talks about other recent Lysistratas, too, namely Ellen Sirleaf Johnson and Leymah Gbowee, whom I also had profiled in “The Nobel Peace Prize’s problem with women,” at http://bit.ly/GAHarR .)

  4. Diana Scott says:

    Great article Catherine – hope it has a big ripple effect! Keep up the good work.

  5. Kim Detorrez says:

    This story about FaceBook shows Zuckerburgs true colors. I wonder if we could muster up some billionairess’s to buy into FB’s IPO.
    Its to bad that I addicted to Facebook or I would switch back to my second favorite social network.

  6. Kim Detorrez says:

    “”I am “” typo, please correct . Thank You .

  7. Good article.
    And maybe UltraViolet will think about spinning off a Change.org petition as well, since that seems to be helpful to recent social campaigns. In fact, I found a similar one here- http://www.change.org/petitions/facebook-add-women-to-your-board
    but it might be good if they did their own version as well.

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