Rebooting Representation

The Rebooting Representation report is an original research effort drawing on insights from 32 leading tech companies representing nearly $500 billion in annual revenue and over $500 million in annual philanthropic giving, as well as 100 of the sector’s top executives and experts. Authored by McKinsey & Company and Pivotal Ventures, the report focuses specifically on understanding how companies approach gender diversity using corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility giving. These are significant resources tech companies could spend alongside their internal efforts to close the gender gap.

It accomplishes three main goals:


Examines the current state of how tech companies use their philanthropy and CSR to address gender diversity today, providing companies, nonprofits, and academics with groundbreaking insights on where the tech sector’s investments go, how decisions are made, and what the main opportunities and challenges are for executing a gender-diversity strategy through corporate giving.


Shares what works for women and girls in tech, based on the latest research and informed by insights from interviews with approximately 100 experts across the field—practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and tech company leaders—to call out opportunities for investment and help companies identify, support, and scale programs that will deliver results for women and girls.


Describes opportunities for action by individual tech companies and the tech sector as a whole to close the gender gap through philanthropy and CSR, providing companies with a practical tools and resources to create strategies that leverage their company’s unique assets and capabilities.

Women are chronically underrepresented in tech

Women – and particularly women of color – are chronically underrepresented in tech.

The situation is even more alarming for Black, Latina, and Native American women. Today, Black, Latina, and Native American women make up just 4% of the computing workforce – and things are getting worse, not better.

Roles in Computing Workforce:

3% Black Women
1% Latina Women

Not only are diverse teams on average more creative and innovative, but they are ultimately more profitable.

Tech’s lack of diversity comes at a high cost

Despite the growing number of voices pushing for gender equality, and many tech companies stating diversity is a priority, we are not yet seeing concrete gains.

Women’s underrepresentation carries a major cost for women, companies, and the entire tech sector. Diverse teams are more creative, innovative, and ultimately more profitable. The connection between gender diversity and financial performance is clear across sectors and geographies. Tech is no different.

If tech companies support avenues for women to pursue careers in technology, particularly women of color who face the greatest barriers, the industry will benefit from a broader talent pool and realize new economic opportunities.

Tech companies’ CSR and philanthropic investments are a powerful but underutilized tool

Tech companies currently use their HR and diversity and inclusion initiatives to increase their gender diversity, and expanding their focus to increase the number of women and girls pursuing computing education in the first place could make a dramatic difference.

Companies can use CSR and philanthropic initiatives to actively involve more women in tech today, expanding the talent pool they will recruit from tomorrow. We surveyed 32 leading tech companies representing nearly $500 billion in revenue to understand how companies have used their CSR and philanthropy to create pathways for women into tech.

What We Found

  • Many companies don’t apply a gender lens to their CSR and philanthropy — in 2017, only 5 percent ($26 million) of companies’ philanthropic giving went to programs with an explicit focus on women and girls in tech.
  • Underrepresented women and girls of color fall through the cracks, with less than 0.1 percent of 2017 philanthropic giving focused on reaching them specifically.
  • Current investments focus on middle and high school students, though later on-ramps are effective at involving more women and girls.
  • Decision-making and ownership regarding gender diversity initiatives are fragmented within tech companies, though companies that successfully link their philanthropy and CSR efforts together with their D&I initiatives are more likely to see success on both fronts.
  • Companies struggle to navigate the limited evidence of what works, with nearly two thirds of companies reporting that it is difficult to know which programs are having the most impact today.

"People want to have the conversation on women in tech so badly they’ll show up in a snow storm."

Trisa Thompson

Former Senior Vice President and Chief Responsibility Officer
Dell Technologies

What works for women & girls in tech

Knowing what works in increasing the number of women studying computing and entering the industry will help companies invest in ways that deliver results for women and girls. This report distills evidence from across the field to identify the approaches showing the most promising results:

Focus on women and girls
Maintaining a focus on women’s equal representation, with stated goals at the program level, is the only way to avoid replicating the same gender ratios we see in tech today.

Solve for those facing the most barriers—underrepresented women and girls of color.
Companies can support strategies that attend to the specific challenges faced by women who experience multiple forms of marginalization based on their identities and backgrounds. Focusing on the experiences of those who face the greatest number of barriers will spur solutions that ultimately improve the inclusivity of the tech sector for all underrepresented groups.

It’s never too late; consider multiple on-ramps
Girls and women can begin their journey into tech at many different points in their lives. Because girls are less likely than boys to have previous exposure to computing as children, later on-ramps—such as those during higher education—are a high-impact opportunity to make up lost ground by involving women and girls with minimal previous exposure to computing.

Deliver eight critical building blocks for success
The evidence base points to eight components that programs need to incorporate to empower women and girls to succeed in tech. Tech companies should work with their partners to ensure these success factors are in place to maximize the impact of their investments.

High-impact action opportunities for companies to move the needle on gender diversity

Choosing a strategic focus that reflects the company’s unique DNA helps companies allocate resources most effectively to deliver on their ultimate objectives. This research identified five high-impact opportunities for company action based on the evidence of what works and what’s needed most to foster gender diversity in tech.

Five high-impact opportunities


Fight stereotypes around women in computing


Create more inclusive experiences of computing for girls in middle and high school


Redesign the experience of college students majoring in computing


Create connections among programs so women and girls move directly from one tech experience to the next


Build knowledge of which programs are working

How individual companies can deliver on their philanthropy & CSR strategies

Today, many companies are hampered by the difficulties of coordinating across a disconnected set of initiatives and stakeholders working on various aspects of this issue from within HR, D&I, CSR, corporate philanthropy, and business units. It doesn’t have to be this way:

  • Unite all the company’s activities and initiatives under an overarching strategy for gender diversity in tech. By bringing together the relevant players, companies can link up internal and external-facing efforts to deliver on a cohesive strategy.
  • Designate a senior executive sponsor to coordinate the company’s comprehensive gender-diversity strategy across internal and external functions. Given the number of stakeholders involved, tech companies rarely have a single person connecting the dots on gender diversity. By designating a sponsor, companies will ensure there’s accountability for delivering results.
  • Measure the impact of CSR and philanthropic efforts with the same rigor applied to the company’s business. Today companies don’t have systems in place to capture data on what’s working. By tracking both short-term performance management indicators and long-term impact metrics, companies will have a data-driven guide to scaling up what works.

Changing the future through collective action

If tech as a sector can translate the energy around gender diversity into collective, sector-wide action, it will move beyond incremental improvement to significantly transform the face of the industry. Partnership is the most powerful tool to get concrete results in a short time because it:

  • Allows companies to do things none of them could do individually by pooling resources and rapidly scaling what works
  • Brings each company’s unique capabilities to the table and connects them to solve the larger puzzle
  • Amplifies the power of companies’ voices by banding them together as a sector

There is already momentum building in the sector around collaborating to design the diverse tech sector of the future.