Solving tech’s stubborn diversity gaps

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Twenty years after Jesse Jackson first took aim at tech employers, Silicon Valley’s enduring diversity gaps remain a painful reminder of its origins as a mostly white boy’s club.

Sadly, little has changed in the decades since the campaign first made headlines. Today, just 7.4 percent of tech industry employees are African-American, and 8 percent are Latinx. Workers at Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter — according to those companies’ own reports — were just 3 percent Hispanic and 1 percent black in 2016.

In some ways, tech’s equity gaps reflect a simple supply and demand imbalance. But it is an imbalance with artificial constraints. Because while Black and Hispanic students now earn computer science degrees at twice the rate that they are hired by leading tech companies, they are all but invisible to most recruiters.  

The problem stems from the fact that tech employers tend to recruit from a tiny subset of elite U.S. colleges.  Which means they may never come into contact with, for example, the 20 percent of black computer science graduates who come from historically black colleges and universities. Thousands of talented candidates are overlooked each year because they graduate from less-selective public universities, minority-serving institutions or women’s colleges — schools that exist far outside the elite network where tech employers recruit. (read more)

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