For part 2, click here.
From the beginning to the end, I always thought that the lack of racial diversity in the tech industry is an interesting and important topic to cover. My interest in this topic began when I started my freshmen year as an undergraduate computer engineering student at SFSU. I was enrolled in an Intro Engineering class that consists of approximately 85% Asians, 10% whites, and 5% Latinos and zero African Americans. This semester, I only know two African Americans who are majoring in Computer Science/Engineering and I have yet to encounter a Hispanic tech major. I am aware that SFSU is one of the most diverse college campuses; I begin to ask myself why tech majors aren’t as diverse as other majors. Therefore, I am interested to research this topic to find out what discerns African Americans and Hispanics from the tech field.
I appreciate and embrace this opportunity to research this topic for my ENG 214 class. I think my topic is very important as technology is consistently improving and diversity plays an important roles in developing new ideas. As an Asian American heritage (Overrepresented group in tech), I am concerned that other underrepresented minorities do not have equal opportunities to explore and pursue a career in such interesting tech fields. Tech fields is where I feel like I belong due to large concentration of my ethnic groups in the field. I cannot imagine walking into the field without seeing people with common interests and backgrounds. If I put myself in the underrepresented minorities’ shoes and walk in Silicon Valley, I would be uncomfortable and feel like an outlier; it is unfortunate that things have to be this way for the underrepresented minorities. That’s why I decide to write about this topic as I am a supporter of equal opportunities; I want to send a clear message to underrepresented minorities that they belong in tech too and everyone has to be in this together in order to make a difference.
One Rises, Others Fall Down
Critics claimed that Silicon Valley is mainly white and Asians. Nowadays, Asian Americans are now the majority in tech. According to the Mercury News article” Asian workers now dominate Silicon Valley tech jobs” by Dan Nakaso, the statistics of Asian Americans tech workers increased from 39% in 2000 to over 50% in 2010 and their job gains are caused by jobs lost from white tech workers. White tech workers went from 50% in 2000 to 41% in 2010, while African Americans and Hispanics are consistently underrepresented at 2.3% and 4.2% respectively (Nakaso).
What are the reasons behind the huge gains in Asian tech workers? Well, tech companies seem to favor international tech workers over American tech workers. Some Silicon Valley tech companies import foreign tech workers from overseas through H1-B Visas; while females, African Americans, and Hispanics had been left out from tech industries for years, white tech workers are now being forced to train their replacements (Nakaso). The rising presentation of Asian Americans software developers spreads across San Francisco Bay Area as Alameda County consists of 53% and San Mateo + Santa Clara County, epicenter of Silicon Valley, consists of 60% (Nakaso). This situation is not ideal to increase diversity, as one group gains as others are on a decline.
Importance of Diversity
My message to tech companies hiring through H1-B Visas and neglecting underrepresented minorities is that you guys are overlooking potentials that can boost the company’s status. According to USA Today article “Why diversity matters to your tech company?” by Joelle Emerson, Scott E. Page, professor of complex systems, political science and economics at University of Michigan, claims that “diverse groups of people bring to organizations more and different ways of seeing a problem and, thus, faster/better ways of solving it.” Moreover, Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, stated that “A fully diverse and inclusive workplace is fundamental to our ability to innovate and deliver business results” (Emerson). Not only that diversity welcome underrepresented minorities into the tech field, companies can improve their products as well.
Tech companies with uneven racial distribution would not satisfy the needs of their certain customers. Some CEOs argue that tech company’s resources are excluding certain groups and worsen the social inequality (Emerson). In my Rhetorical Analysis, I talked about a YouTube App that is programmed by right-hand software engineers and the app’s glitch of upside-down videos. This is an example of how lack of diversity fails to meet some customer’s needs. Tracy Chou, Software Engineer at Pinterest, claims that varieties of people that represent the user base of the same ethnic backgrounds, interests, culture, and life experiences make their product effective and keep their company lively (Emerson). There are many positive aspects of diversity. Sadly, not many tech companies are aware of the lack of racial diversity and many potentials are wasted. My final statement to those companies that makes excuses about the lack of diversity is that they are hurting their reputation and business; not recognizing positivity of diversity is a huge loss as the company fails to improve their products and develop new ideas to satisfy everyone’s needs.
Nakaso, Dan. “Asian Workers Now Dominate Silicon Valley Tech Jobs.” The Mercury News.
The Mercury News, 29 Nov. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
Emerson, Joelle. “Why Diversity Matters to Your Tech Company.” USA Today. Gannett, 22.
July 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.