Tech Layoffs Raise Concerns about Diversity in STEM


The future of diversity and inclusion in STEM fields has been called into question after tech industry layoffs in 2022 disproportionately targeted female employees, causing current STEM students to rethink their place in the industry. 
Women accounted for nearly 47% of layoffs from September to December 2022, yet they only make up 39% of the tech industry as a whole, according to data collected by Revelio Labs and Reuters. 
These layoffs are only the latest indicator of an overarching downward trend in workplace diversity. Not only have tech companies been lacking a more diverse workforce, but the attrition rate — the amount of employees who leave a company over time — has risen as well.
Over 60% of California State University, East Bay’s student population are women. Some of the university’s most popular majors are computer science and biological sciences, but for current students in these majors, this shift away from diversity in the workplace has caused some doubt regarding their future employment in STEM and tech fields.
“I’ve been very aware of [the layoffs],” shared Anya Alcantara, a transfer student and Computer Science major at CSUEB. “My dad was laid off by a company he worked at for 12 years — this was 10 years ago … I don’t believe in job security at this point.”
Alcantara’s hesitancy regarding her future job prospects were compounded by her status as a trans woman. Trans women have historically been notable contributors to STEM fields, but the lack of current and local trans representation in the field is isolating. “There’s this in-joke in the trans community about trans women commonly going into computer science,” she stated. “That is reassuring, but I only know one other trans person in any of my classes.”
Dr. Lynne Grewe, a Computer Science professor at CSUEB, believes in the department’s commitment to diversity, as it is a part of both the Computing Alliance for Hispanic Serving Institutions and the National Center for Women in Technology alliances. “I see a strong commitment in both academia and industry for diversity in computing. I do not see a reduction in these efforts [to increase diversity],” Grewe stated.
In the eyes of an experienced tech professional like Dr. Grewe, these layoffs are not a sign of decreased diversity in the industry—they are simply part of an economic cycle. 
“Technology is a creative industry yielding some of the world’s greatest inventions and [I] am confident that it will continue to do so, bringing with it the eventual upturn in employment opportunities,” Grewe concluded.