Google chairman Eric Schmidt is baffled: There's 'something about tech culture' driving women away

Eric Schmidt looks unhappyRob Kim/Getty ImagesGoogle executive chairman Eric Schmidt

Why do people keep asking Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt how to get more women into tech?

He doesn’t know.

He flat-out admitted as much on Tuesday while speaking at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C., reports Forbes contributor Ana Swanson.

‘There’s something about the tech culture, the way we approach it, the incentives, that is driving women away …. Why are they not in tech? I don’t think we know that. We’re working on it,” Schmidt said.

It’s not really clear why he’s so baffled (and its also not clear who the “we” is who’s “working on it”).

Anyone following even a smattering of stories of sexism in the tech industry, from the Ellen Pao trial, to the “brogrammer” culture run amok in the open source programming world, to the horrors of Gamergate last year, can sort of figure it out.

Google isn’t a shining example of perfection in the area: 70% of Google’s employees are men, and in its tech roles — the critical jobs for a tech company — 83% of are men, Google says. That’s about average for a tech company its size.

And it was only a couple of weeks ago Schmidt himself was called on the carpet for disrespectful behaviour to US Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. During a panel discussion on, ironically enough, the lack of women in tech, Schmidt repeatedly interrupted her.

So when Schmidt says he doesn’t know, we can believe him.

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