The pipeline is only part of the problem in tech worker diversity: Report

The pipeline is only part of the problem in tech worker diversity: Report

Think diversity in tech is a pipeline issue? Think again.

Nine percent of graduates from top engineering programs are black and Latino, according to a recent report titled “Diversity in High Tech” by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Representation for blacks and Latinos at tech firms, however, typically falls to around 5 percent, showing a sharp disparity between supply and demand.

“While there is some truth to the ‘pipeline’ theory and anxiety over the ability of the U.S. educational system to provide a sufficiently large, well trained, and diverse labor pool, there are additional factors at play,” the EEOC report stated.

The report also noted some other “concerning trends” in the tech industry. Executive ranks showed a disproportionate number of whites promoted to top positions as compared to their minority peers. The tech sector nationwide saw whites represented at 83.3 percent in the “executives” category. That’s 15 percentage points higher than their representation in the “professionals” category, which includes jobs that lead to executive positions such as computer programming.

Other groups were promoted to executive positions at significantly lower rates; African Americans were at 2 percent executives to 5.3 percent professionals; Hispanics saw 3.1 percent executives to 5.3 percent professionals; and Asian Americans were at 10.6 percent executives to 19.5 percent professionals.

When it came to leading tech firms in Silicon Valley, 57 percent of executive employees were white, 36 percent were Asian American, 1.6 percent were Hispanic and less than 1 percent were black. Among the total employed at top Silicon Valley tech companies, 47 percent were white, 30 percent were women, 41 percent were Asian American, 3 percent were black and 6 percent were Hispanic.

“Employment in computer science and engineering is growing at twice the rate of the national average,” the report noted. “These jobs tend to provide higher pay and better benefits, and they have been more resilient to economic downturns than other private sector industries over the past decade. In addition, jobs in the high tech industry have a strong potential for growth. These jobs are important to companies in all industries that require workers with technology skills.”

Silicon Valley companies have been self-reporting diversity numbers in hopes that transparency can contribute solutions to the issue. Facebook has self reported that the company is 55 percent white, 36 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic and 2 percent black. Apple fared a little better in its recent survey on diversity, the Cupertino-based company is 54 percent white, 18 percent Asian and 8 percent black.


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