Race In Tech, Part One: Inside The Numbers
There is a great analogy used to describe the logical and emotional sides of our brains. New York University psychologist Jonathan Haidt compares our brain to an elephant and a rider. The rider is logic. The elephant is emotion. To affect change, you have to appeal to the rider and the elephant. For change to occur, both must want to go down the path. We in tech love our data. We love our logic. However, 2020 has had many of us looking at a cold hard truth when it comes to racial diversity in tech: Despite years of reporting on diversity and inclusion efforts, we have made little progress.
According to the 2014 Diversity in High Tech Report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the percentage of Black employees in high-tech industries is 7.4%, yet about 13% of the U.S. population is Black. Hispanic employees hold just about 8% of jobs in high tech, but 18% of the overall population in 2019 was Hispanic. Add gender identity to this data and you find that Black, Latina and Native American women received just 4% of computing degrees in 2016. According to Wired (paywall), these numbers have barely moved in some companies in five years.
The 2020 People of Color in Tech Report from Trust Radius analyzes the results of a survey given to over 1,200 professionals in tech and provides some interesting insights into some of the reasons why the needle is so slow to move. Parenthetically, I will add, the report does a great job of appealing to both the rider and the elephant by interspersing stories from people of color in tech.