The technology industry's predominantly white and Asian male workforce is in danger of losing touch with the diverse nation -- and world -- that forms its customer base.
Recently released numbers from some of the largest and most powerful companies confirm what many had suspected: Opportunity here is not created equal.
Blacks and Hispanics are largely absent, and women are underrepresented in
The industry that bills itself as a meritocracy actually looks more like a "mirrortocracy," says longtime high-tech entrepreneur
Even as companies scramble to find workers in the most competitive hiring market in recent memory, most are continuing to bring aboard people who look like they do.
And that, Kapor says, could undercut
By 2040, the U.S. will be a minority majority, with 42% of the country black or Hispanic.
"I bet we'll be able to do some really interesting business case studies in 10 years and see what companies did and didn't make it -- and who had the most diverse teams from top to bottom," Kelly said.
With the tech sector fueling the U.S. economy, the low rate of participation in high tech also threatens to drive up the unemployment rate for blacks and Hispanics, which is already three times the national average. Computer science jobs are the fastest growing and command the highest salaries. Yet just one in 14 tech employees in
"The numbers are not where we want them to be," said
Nationally, blacks make up 12% of the U.S. workforce and Hispanics 14%. At
No one's saying this is the overt discrimination or explicit bias of the 1950s or even the 1970s. It's much more subtle and has everything to do with where you went to school, what you studied and who you roomed with, either at
It's "the guy in your dorm, the guy dating your sister, how
From that, patterns have emerged over time. White and Asian men fit the stereotypical image of a
That's made it tougher for African Americans and Hispanics to break into
"You have to be intentional. You have to say, 'This doesn't look right. Why don't I have women or women of color on my development team?' It's not just going to happen," said McGowen-Hare, a black female coder.
These companies are also taking steps to combat unconscious bias by offering training to their employees.
Kiva Wilson, a diversity program manager at
"We are seeing nothing short of a seismic shift in our field," said
That hard work is only getting started. Even when blacks and Hispanics break into
Before she could tell him about her start-up, he advised her to forget any aspirations of starting a company and to get a job instead -- she would never have the right connections to be successful in
It was just the first of many times in which technology investors and executives have second-guessed her credentials. But that has only made her double down on her company, EnovationNation in
"EnovationNation is not a great company because I am a black woman. It is a great company because it is a great product that helps other innovators," she said.
Tech workers of color say they are not looking for a handout, just an equal shot at the world's greatest wealth creation machine.
He says he's targeting a market worth billions but that is woefully underserved. He recently landed
"I truly believe that
And he has set out to prove it. His
He's been so successful in recruiting from these underrepresented groups that there is only one white man working in his 13-person company.
"We joke all the time that I should e-mail our investors and ask them to think of any white men we can hire," Walker said.
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