Diversity in Tech: Silicon Valley Leadership Dominated by White Men, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Report Finds
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) met on Wednesday to discuss for the first time the diversity problem in Silicon Valley, as Latin Post previously reported.
It also released the preliminary findings of a report on the tech industry and diversity. Here are the details.
The EEOC's report, "Diversity in High Tech," looked at data from federally required Employer Information (EEO-1) reports collected in 2014, comparing industries involved with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations across the country.
The report took in to consideration not only big Silicon Valley firms, but employment statistics nationwide for occupations that involved or touched the tech sector, and compared the diversity data to that of private industry in general.
Compared to overall private industry, the high tech sector employed a larger share of:
- Whites (63.5 percent to 68.5 percent),
- Asian Americans (5.8 percent to 14 percent)
- Men (52 percent to 64 percent)
At the same time high tech industries, compared to the overall private sector, employed a smaller share of:
- African Americans (14.4 percent to 7.4 percent)
- Hispanics (13.9 percent to 8 percent)
- Women (48 percent to 36 percent)
Nationwide, STEM-related industries had huge disparities up the leadership chain, too. The report compared the rate at which groups were represented in the Executive (top leadership) category versus the "Professionals" category (e.g. computer programmers, engineers).
- White Executives were at 83.3 percent, over 15 percent higher than representation in the Professionals category (68 percent)
- African American Executives were at 2 percent, versus 5.3 percent Professionals
- Latinos were at 3.1 percent, versus 5.3 percent Professionals
- Asian American Executives were at 10.6 percent, versus 19.5 percent
- 80 percent of Executives were men, with 20 percent women, versus 71 percent men versus 29 percent women Executives in general private industry
Much of Silicon Valley's biggest players have made a point to launch initiatives to spur diversity in hiring over the past two or so years, but the report's findings took a sour tone on the efforts.
"Despite rapid transformation in the field, the overwhelming dominance of white men in the industries and occupations associated with technology has remained," the report stated.
Panel: Diversity is Critical
Members of the EEOC and guest panelists discussed the report, and the future economic problems the current lack of diversity portends.
EEOC surveys and research director Ron Edwards said the report's data on the lack of diversity, especially at higher levels of the high tech industry "suggests a pattern where women and non-white employment decreases as the job group increases from technicians up to executives."
Another part of diversity in technology less often discussed was brought up by panelist Laurie McCann, a senior attorney with the AARP Foundation: ageism in Silicon Valley.
"Unlike age disparities, at least these companies aren't boasting about their gender or racial disparities as a reason you should want to come work for them," McCann wryly noted.
"Companies post [wanted ads] for new or recent graduates, some even specify which graduating class," said McCann, according to SFGate. "Some require applicants to be digital natives... this is purely age-based." She suggested the EEOC begin requiring age data in their EEO-1 reports and take action against companies that explicitly use age discrimination in hiring.
EEOC Chairwoman Jenny Yang summarized the importance of diversity in tech, which is the fastest-growing sector of the economy:
"Expanding diversity is critical to unlocking the full potential of tomorrow's economy," said Yang, according to USA Today. "Standing still is not an option."
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