Tech industry is expanding at a high rate across the nation due to technological advances. However, there is a missing link in the tech field. Prominent Silicon Valley tech industries lack racial diversity, which does not give some minority groups equal opportunities to enter the field.
Latinos and African Americans computer engineering undergraduates or tech job seekers are impacted by this issue because they are represented in very low rates in the tech field. Quoctrung Bui and Claire Cain Miller, New York Times writers of the article “Why Tech Degrees Are Not Putting More Black and Hispanic into Tech Jobs”, compare the data of young computer science and engineering graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 57% are Whites, 26% are Asians, 8% are Hispanic, and 6% are Blacks. Furthermore, the article implies that tech giants in Silicon Valley such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter have technical workers of 56% Whites, 37% Asians, 3% Hispanics, and 1% Blacks, which shows a huge racial inequality among tech workers (Bui and Miller). Therefore, exploring the causes of underrepresentation of those groups in tech fields can provide equal opportunities for everyone and break the racial barrier in a booming industry.
My Interest in The Topic.
My interest in this topic began when I started my freshmen year as an undergraduate computer engineering student at SFSU and noticed that White and Asian races are dominating the tech concentration. In Silicon Valley, the odds of seeing one of those ethnicities as a tech employee is relatively high. Also, I rarely encounter any computer engineering students at SFSU who aren’t white nor Asian. For example, I was enrolled in an Intro Engineering class that consists of approximately 85% Asians, 10% whites, and 5% Latinos and zero African Americans. Being on one of the most diverse campuses, I started to question: why isn’t computer engineering as racially diverse as other majors at SF State? I understand that engineering prerequisites such as Calculus and Physics are grueling, but I believe that any engineering students can accomplish their classes with hard work and motivation.
Why Am I Interested Now?
As a supporter of diversity and equal opportunities, I am interested to research this topic to promote my beliefs and send a clear message that everyone regardless of race, gender, and ethnic backgrounds should have equal opportunities to enter the tech industry. For example, if tech companies are hiring only Asians and whites, then African Americans or Hispanic computer engineering students may not have equal opportunities to enter the tech work force, which would be ridiculous. By fully understanding the issues, I should be aware of the qualities that tech companies look for in an applicant and solutions to stop the race barriers.
Will Tech Degrees Guarantee Tech Jobs for African Americans or Hispanics?
There are more African Americans and Latinos computer science and engineering students than the number of them as an actual tech worker. According to American Community Survey Data, 40% of Asian graduates obtain tech jobs while only 16% of Blacks and 12% of Hispanics are successful in obtaining tech jobs. (Bui and Miller). Another New York Times article titled “Daily Report: A Push for Diversity in Tech Industry” by Jim Kerstetter insists that as of 2011, Blacks represent 11% of total workforce while only 6% are science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) workers and 1% are Blacks entrepreneurs who run tech venture-capital start-ups . On the other hand, Hispanics represent 15% of total workforce, but only 7% are STEM workers.
What are the reasons behind the racial gap? Well, based on the statistics above, anyone who is Hispanics or African Americans would be discourage to join the tech industry because they would feel like an outlier. A sociologist of University of Connecticut named Maya A. Beasley argues how African Americans are more likely to change career path with and without a computer science/engineering degree. Her book titled “Opting Out: Losing the Potential of America’s Young Black Elite” emphasizes that African Americans who studied science and technology were unlikely to stay on the path with their majors because they think that they are underperforming. On the other hands, African Americans or Hispanics who obtained their tech degree are unlikely to pursue a tech job; but instead they would pursue a non-profit or business work force due to their observation of the underrepresentation of their group in tech industry (Bui and Miller). The psychological effects of racial inequality played a big role in preventing African Americans into tech industry because they feel unwelcomed. Therefore, tech industries should be more open and encouraging to all races and ethnic groups in order to stop the racial gap.
What Can Be Done?
A problem should always have a solution. With such data representing the clear statement that Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in tech industry, actions are needed. Luckily, there is a possible solution that can lure African Americans and Latinos into the tech industry and makes them feel welcomed. In San Francisco Bay Area, an educational start-up technology worker named Jason Young created a program called “Hidden Genius Initiative” that aims to educate young African American men about programming, app design, and business skills. James Young’s main objective is to assist those people to find themselves and realize their potential to pave their way into a rapid growing tech industry (Kerstetter). Therefore, the program “Hidden Genius Initiative” is a good way to start in order to break down the race barrier in tech fields. Because “Hidden Genius Initiative” is not well-known due to its small status as a start-up business, it is unclear whether or not the program will bring more Latinos and African Americans into the tech businesses; however the program is promising because the lack of diversity in tech industry has been taken into consideration.
Bui, Quoctrung, and Claire Cain Miller. “Why Tech Degrees Are Not Putting More Blacks and Hispanics Into Tech Jobs.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Feb. 2016. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
Kerstetter, Jim. “Daily Report: A Push for Diversity in the Tech Industry.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 Sept. 2015. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.