GorT works in the tech industry (surprised?) and this topic comes up periodically. It usually goes something like this: there is a lack of representation of (insert sub-group of population here) and companies are evil because they aren’t doing enough to address that.
What is generally ignored is the contributing factors and the focus stays on the end situation. Add to this groups like Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition and their attempt to become some sort of monitoring and enforcement bureau over commercial companies. Case in point, they are attacking Amazon for their recent disclosure of their workforce demographics:
The lack of inclusion at AMAZON mirrors their industry peers: No Blacks or Latinos on their Board and an all-male management. Data released by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition last week indicated that of 183 board members of 20 tech companies surveyed, there are just 3 African Americans and 1 Latino.
The virtual lack of inclusion in Silicon Valley and other tech companies like AMAZON is a systemic problem. It’s time to go beyond the rhetoric of “doing better” and turn high-sounding words into concrete action. At its best, technology can be a tremendously positive change agent for the world; at its worst, it can repeat old patterns that exclude people of color and women from opportunity and advancement. Silicon Valley and the tech industry must transform itself to resemble the America it depends upon for talent and customers.
African Americans and people of color “over-index” as users and consumers, but “under-index” in their representation and inclusion in the boardrooms, and executive suites, the workforce and as business partners.
There is a lot there to take apart there.
First, the problem of minorities (by any category) begins in early stages of education. There are plenty of studies, reports and statistics show that many minorities fall out of STEM areas in the K-12 range…and many times its before the 9-12 high school grades.
Second, the problem is compounded by factors like the ones pointed out in this study: where minorities are recruited and encouraged to attend colleges that are more difficult program than what their academic credentials support (the report refers to this as a “mismatch”). It is likely that these students perform poorer in college and get frustrated and change majors away from STEM majors. Remember, this recruiting is in large part an attempt by colleges to be seen as diverse and supportive of various minorities. By no means should the reader infer that I am arguing for any sort of segregation. You’ll see what I’m recommending later.
Third, 75% of STEM majors go on to work in non-STEM fields leaving only 25% of them in the same industry. Even if you make the assumption (which is likely incorrect) that that percentage is equally spread out over minority segments, it doesn’t eave many. “The statistics show that women are less likely to major in engineering and computer sciences, which may reduce their STEM employment options unless they go on to graduate school,” Landivar said in this article.
Fourth, if this were a “lack of inclusion” problem as pointed out, there should be evidence of racial bias and discrimination…on a broad basis to get to these numbers. I can’t recall seeing any such reporting by the media and I doubt these companies could so effectively hide it that we wouldn’t heard.
Finally, the last section I want to take exception with is the “Silicon Valley and the tech industry must transform itself to resemble the America it depends upon for talent and customers” and final comparison between minority “users and consumers” and executives and workforce members. If we extrapolate that argument, are we saying that companies make up should mirror their consumers’ demographics? So if company X’s customer base is 80% black, their workforce, executive board, etc. should be 80% black? How far do we take this? Race? Religion? Gender? Education level? It makes no sense. Period. I challenge anyone to put forth an argument why a company’s demographics should match its customer base.
I’m all for diversity but we need to address the problem and not a consequence. I’ve been a part of organizations, companies and conferences that support Code.org, GirlsWhoCode.com and other groups encouraging earlier adoption and focus on Computer Science work. Our culture is part of the problem. Look at what Hollywood puts out there – two of the main female characters on Bing Bang Theory are not portrayed in a smart light and the third is part of the show’s jokes and pokes at nerds. I enjoy it as entertainment but one could argue that the subtle message is that “nerds aren’t cool”. And yes, sure, because there is a show featuring nerds that somehow counters it…but that’s pretty weak.
GorT is an eight-foot-tall robot from the 51ˢᵗ Century who routinely time-travels to steal expensive technology from the future and return it to the past for retroinvention. The profits from this pay all the Gormogons’ bills, including subsidizing this website. Some of the products he has introduced from the future include oven mitts, the Guinness widget, Oxy-Clean, and Dr. Pepper. Due to his immense cybernetic brain, GorT is able to produce a post in 0.023 seconds and research it in even less time. Only ’Puter spends less time on research. GorT speaks entirely in zeros and ones, but occasionally throws in a ڭ to annoy the Volgi. He is a massive proponent of science, technology, and energy development, and enjoys nothing more than taking the Czar’s more interesting scientific theories, going into the past, publishing them as his own, and then returning to take credit for them. He is the only Gormogon who is capable of doing math. Possessed of incredible strength, he understands the awesome responsibility that follows and only uses it to hurt people.