Last year, numbers released by five of Silicon Valley’s largest companies revealed a distinct lack of diversity, as whites and people of Asian descent were found to make up 91 percent of the workforce. The report also showed a lack of women, further leading many to call for changes at the nation’s top tech firms. According to a more recent study, there may be a natural shift underway.
As the Wall Street Journal reports in a post titled “Tech Employment: More Diverse Than You Think,” a Progressive Policy Institute report issued last month shows that between 2009 and 2014, black and hispanic workers went from holding 9 percent of the nation’s tech jobs to 12 percent.
What’s more, the number of black tech workers with college degrees jumped by 58 percent, as many African Americans found jobs as programmers, database administrators, software developers, and the like. Also of note: Hispanic employment in tech skyrocketed 103 percent.
As the study’s authors explain, big tech companies tend to base their companies in urban areas attractive to young workers, rather than sprawling suburban campuses, and that has the potential to positively impact surrounding inner-city communities and create “positive local economic spillover.”
“This has enormous potential benefits for high poverty urban populations, by promoting better education and social infrastructure,” the authors write.
The Progressive Policy Institute’s findings aren’t quite as positive for women. Of the 730,000 high-level tech jobs created between 2009 and 2014, only 26 percent went to women — even though they make up 47 percent of the total workforce. The disparity can partially be explained, the authors said, by the fact that many science-minded females choose to work in health care rather than tech. A Google study finds that “social encouragement, self-perception, academic exposure, and career perception” are key factors keeping women away from tech careers.
Still, Progressive Policy Institute chief economic strategist Michael Mandel is hopeful.
“Tech jobs,” he says, “are growing faster and are more diverse than people think.”