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Women in Tech

The push toward gender equality in the tech world is, at best, a mixed bag.

And the industry knows it. Many of its biggest companies, including Apple and Facebook, admit they need to do more to attract women to their workforce. A few, such as and Intel, now make sure women and men doing the same work are paid the same. On the flip side, the gaming industry still displays more than its share of harassment, and some white men still debate what a software engineer actually looks like.

To mark this year's International Women's Day on March 8, Taking a look back at the last 12 months to note both the good and bad as the tech industry figures out how to become more inclusive.

Bridging the tech education gap: The push to teach more kids -- especially girls and minorities -- computer science got a boost in January, when President Barack Obama included a $4 billion Computer Science for All initiative as part of this year's proposed federal budget.

The three-year plan, which still needs congressional approval, would give states money to build up their computer science programs in grades from kindergarten through high school, helping them train teachers and develop new classroom materials.

In addition, the 100K in 10 group -- a coalition of universities, nonprofits and government agencies that aims to train and keep 100,000 new STEM teachers by 2021 -- just added nearly 50 new partners, including Girls Who Code, Harvard and the Smithsonian Science Education Center.

Intel's $300 million diversity project: The world's biggest chipmaker last month released its latest diversity report, saying 43 percent of all new hires last year were women or underrepresented minorities. As a result, the percentage of women employed by Intel in the US rose to 24.8 percent from 23.5 percent a year earlier. That small rise illustrates that change takes a long time.

Apple, which also stressed workplace diversity, published its diversity stats in January that showed women comprised 30 percent of its US workforce last year, compared with 27.7 percent in 2014. Even so, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant remains largely white and male.

Expanded parental leave: Few would claim that US companies offer enough paid time off for new mothers, but many tech companies are working to change that. Netflix in August said it would start offering "unlimited" parental leave for employees during their first years as parents. Microsoft, Amazon and PayPal last year also increased the length of their parental leave programs.

Supporting global initiatives: Silicon Valley is also throwing its weight behind global campaigns aimed at solving the root problems of gender equality. On Monday, several tech industry heavy hitters, including Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, YouTube's Susan Wojcicki, Salesforce's Marc Benioff and others, teamed up with advocacy group ONE and signed a letter to world leaders declaring "poverty is sexist."

Stereotypes still rule: Last summer, OneLogin ran ads around San Francisco looking to recruit more people to the company, which focuses on cloud-based security. Such advertising wouldn't normally generate much attention, but one of OneLogin's ads did, because it included a young female engineer named Isis Anchalee. Anchalee found herself the topic of posts and messages, some positive and some negative, about her role in a male-dominated industry.

The sudden flurry of public discussion sparked Anchalee to create a campaign called #ILookLikeAnEngineer, which aimed to dispel the notion that engineers are only white and male.

Even more Gamergate woes: Gamergate was an ugly controversy in 2014 that involved some in the gaming industry bullying and making death threats against women who spoke out against female stereotypes in games. The issue reared its ugly head again late last year after organizers for the South by Southwest tech and media festival in Austin, Texas, canceled two panels on gaming-related harassment after receiving threats of violence. SXSW's leaders reversed that decision after women's rights advocates and media organizations complained.

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