Top Company History and Methods

The Anita Borg Institute is ideally positioned to pioneer the quantitative benchmarking of gender diversity metrics specific to women in computing. In 2008, ABI collaborated with the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University on the first large-scale study of men and women in technology careers. Those findings underpin our development of a tool to measure and assess the gender diversity of the technical workforce within organizations.

Expert Founding Team

ABI drew on knowledge and experience from its Board of Trustees, its partner companies, specialists in human resources and diversity and inclusion, and academics who study gender and the workforce. The Trustees formed a strategies and metrics taskforce to guide the initiative’s development. An industry advisory group, comprising senior leaders in technology and specialists in diversity and inclusion provided insight and data on the technical workforce. Finally, a social science research advisory board collaborated with the ABI research team to review academic literature, select metrics, and develop algorithms for the evaluation rubric.

Top Company Metrics

ABI selected nine critical metrics to assess different aspects of the technical pipeline. Six metrics break out the representation of women technologists, and three other metrics assess career progression through recruitment, retention and advancement. Companies submit numerator and denominator data on their technical workforce for each metric during two 12-month periods as specified in the Top Company instructions.

Current year data are used to calculate metrics that are each rated against ABI’s research-based industry benchmarks. The prior year data are used to calculate year-over-year percentage-point change metrics that are each rated against benchmarks for progress. Three additional data points are collected from participating companies for validation and comparison but do not receive ratings.

The data periods for the 2014-2015 Top Company initiative are:

  • Prior Year:  October 1, 2012 – September 30, 2013
  • Current Year:  October 1, 2013 – September 30, 2014

ABI Industry Benchmarks

ABI set benchmark ranges for each of the nine critical metrics, drawing from relevant national data on technical degrees, occupations, and management. The benchmark range, set at the midpoint 3 on ABI’s 1 to 5 scale, is based upon the availability of the labor supply and represents what a typical company should be able to achieve. The top companies are achieving higher scores. Sources for national data include the National Science Foundation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


A special thank you to the founding social science research advisory board:

Andrea Davies Henderson, Director, Research and Programs, Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford University
Matt Huffman, Assoicate Professor of Sociology, University of California Irvine
Alexandra Kalev, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Arizona
Kjersten Bunker Whittington, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Reed College