Social Inequality in High Tech: How Gender, Race, and Ethnicity Structure the World's Most Powerful Industry

Megan Tobias Neely, Patrick Sheehan, Christine L. Williams

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The high-tech industry is the world's most powerful and profitable industry, and it is almost entirely dominated by white, Asian American, and Asian men. This article reviews research on social inequality in the high-tech industry, focusing on gender and race/ethnicity. It begins with a discussion of alternative ways of defining the sector and an overview of its history and employment demographics. Next is an analysis of gendered and racialized pathways into high-paying jobs in the industry, followed by a review of research on workplace organization that emphasizes how sexism and racism are embedded inside the firm and beyond it, through the design of high-tech products and services. Finally, gender and racial disparities in attrition rates are discussed. The conclusion calls for future research on social inequality and the funding structure of the industry, age discrimination inside tech, effective diversity policies, and labor movement activism throughout the high-tech industry.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
Pages (from-to)319-338
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • High-tech industry
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Workplace inequality
  • Organizations
  • Venture capital

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