Newly aglow with fatherly pride after the recent birth of his daughter Maxima, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seems to be asserting his position on gender issues and the tech industry: Girls should embrace their nerdiness.
In response to Zuckerberg’s status announcing his New Year’s resolution, a proud grandmother praised the tech executive for being a shining example of the type of men her granddaughters should have in their lives, TechCrunch reported.
“I keep telling my granddaughters to date the nerd in school [because] he may turn out to be a Mark Zuckerberg!” Darlene Hackemer Loretto wrote. “Thanks for [Facebook], I’ve reconnected with family and many old friends and classmates.”
Zuckerberg quickly replied, “Even better would be to encourage them to be the nerd in their school so they can be the next successful inventor!”
The response captures the roaring sentiment expressed by diversity advocates in tech and science — that nerdiness isn’t gender or race-specific, and the industry should reflect that. Over the past few years, Facebook and other major tech companies have had to acknowledge their diversity shortfalls when it comes to recruiting and retaining women and people of color.
Facebook’s demographics largely echo that of the industry at large — predominantly white and male — with men making up 68 percent of all employees and 85 percent of those in tech. Women at Facebook hold about one in four leadership positions, according to the social network’s 2015 diversity report. Whites make up more than half of the company’s employees with Asians being the second largest racial demographic overall and in tech. Blacks, Latinos, and multiracial employees account for less than 10 percent.
Facebook was often criticized for shutting down accounts for pictures of women breastfeeding because it violated the site’s nudity policy. The social network recently softened its “real name” policy” after years of criticism from users, particularly in the LGBT community, who were kept from using the network because their name, either assumed or legally verified, didn’t sound authentic.
Zuckerberg’s comment may be the New Year’s resolution for the tech industry as a whole: That gender bias will be replaced by equal opportunity encouragement on every level in 2016.