Revealing Numbers on Tech’s Racial Diversity

It’s an increasingly accepted notion that diversity leads to innovation and better products, since different types of people bring different points of view to the table. That’s one reason it’s important to have cross-cultural teams in place throughout the tech world. Unfortunately, lack of diversity can be self-perpetuating: A number of minority professionals get fed up with the monochrome character of their workplace and move on to other opportunities.

Chart: IT Labor Force by Race

According to the National Science Foundation, blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Alaska Natives and women are under-represented in the science and engineering industry compared to their proportion in the general U.S. population. Asians and whites, however, are overrepresented, according to an NSF report published in 2012.

In Silicon Valley, the San Jose Mercury News found that the percentage of Latinos and blacks who work for the area’s computer companies saw their share of the workforce fall. In looking at the ethnic makeup of 10 of the largest tech companies in the region, the newspaper found the number of black workers dropped by 16 percent between 1999 and 2005. The number of Latinos dropped by 11 percent. The reasons cited for the drop in the Valley ranged from a weak economy putting a dent into companies’ commitment to diversity to a “weak pipeline of homegrown candidates.”

Nationwide, the number of black and Latino engineers has improved over the last four to six years. But as the National Science Foundation notes in its 2012 report, both ethnic groups remain under-represented when considering the percentage both groups account for in the general population.

In 2007, the number of Latino engineers jumped to an annual average of 101,000 from 76,000 in 2006. Since then, their numbers have remained somewhat stable, with 114,000 counted toward the annual average in 2011, according to the BLS.

Blacks, meanwhile, posted an annual average of 95,000 engineers in 2009, up from 85,000 in 2008. The number of black engineers has fluctuated in the low 90,000s from 2009 to 2011.

Here’s a look at the level of diversity for various IT positions:

Chart: Ethic Diversity in Computer Occupations

Comments

  1. BY Donald Peters says:

    If it is diversity that you want, there is far more diversity between a Ukrainian woman and an American white man than there is between an American white male and an American black male. Yet according to your simple model, that Ukrainian woman and the American White male are the same.

    Methinks you are just the typical racist liberal that wants preferential treatment for “your” minorities.

    • BY Guy Rich says:

      Duhh well of course one is a woman the other is man.
      Again there’s only one race …human
      only two types of humans … female & male (no such thing as a “transgender”)
      Only two states of existence..alive or dead.
      there’s no such thing as “black” people or “brown” people or “white” people..
      The ONLY yellow people are the Simpsons.

    • BY Mike says:

      No – she is just stating a fact. Why is it that whenever someone questions the numbers – people like you cry racism. Even when whites “have it all” based on their numbers in a field – people cry racism when someone states the percentage of non-whites should be higher. Geessshh. Just admit – some of you cry about fairness, but don’t ever want to have to compete with anyone. Is this because you know you didn’t get where you are based on your skills but instead on your ability to run your mouth and call in favors?

      • BY Guy Rich says:

        Get rid of the FALSE and UNSCIENTIFIC national-socialist concept of “race” and this entire
        ridiculous discussion goes away.
        Free your minds and your a$$es will follow

      • BY Developer says:

        The best person should get the job. The most productive individual for the organization should be paid the most. If that person is of this race or of that gender, it should be irrelevant. It should be kudos to them for applying their skills and determination to be successful.
        Now if an organization is discriminating, that group is really hurting itself if they are picking an inferior candidate over another due to bias. If kids of this race or that race are being deprived of opportunities to learn, we as a society should correct this problem because we are only screwing ourselves out of future leaders and contributors to our economy.

  2. BY Guy Rich says:

    First of all the “concept” of “race” is to put it bluntly an idea borne out of national-socialism.
    (those of you who don’t know what national-socialism is please “google” it)
    It has it’s historic roots in the other falsehood that Christ Jesus in the flesh was “white”.
    There’s only ONE race …HUMAN, male & female, alive or dead…and that’s it.
    The sooner humans get these stupid, illogical and unscientific ideas out of their heads
    the bettor all of humanity will.

  3. BY Fred Bosick says:

    Why aren’t Indians counted? The pool under discussion is “general US population”, not citizens.

    “…the newspaper found the number of black workers dropped by 16 percent between 1999 and 2005. The number of Latinos dropped by 11 percent. The reasons cited for the drop in the Valley ranged from a weak economy putting a dent into companies’ commitment to diversity to a “weak pipeline of homegrown candidates.”

    Besides the “weak pipeline”, which is a crock, another reason for the low representation of minorities might be, because of their personal knowledge of and efforts to combat discrimination, they are more effective in countering an intended “diversification” based on cheapness rather than historical fairness and merit.

  4. BY Frank says:

    Thank you Ms. Kawamoto.
    As usual very interesting article.
    I have a question how the survey differentiated Programmers from Developers? These titles are somehow fuzzy.

  5. BY Kan says:

    First off, let me say that my opinions are based on my personal experience working for various companies, but I don’t see Indians being counted here, unless they’re represented under the Asian categories. They would really take up a big chunk of the pie.

    The number of whites are probably overrepresented based on what I’ve seen at the companies I had worked for. Indians take over 90% of the IT staff.

    • BY Donald Peters says:

      I’ll go back to the “lack of diversity” or declining diversity as the theme of the article. Yeah there is a major lack of diversity in IT. As someone who has been a minority in a department of 50+ (there were 3 or 4 of us who were born in the USA, I was the only one in the entire department over 50), I agree that in many Fortune 500 companies up to 90% of the IT staff are Asians, primarily from India and Pakistan but also from China, Philippines, Korea, etc.
      The lack of diversity, however, has nothing to do with race or color though. It is lack of age diversity. If you are over 40 and you lose your job in IT because your company folded or because you got outsourced, your chances of ever working again in IT are slim, regardless of whether you are white, Asian, male, female or whatever. I don’t know where these numbers came from but the only way they can be anywhere near accurate is if Indians are being counted as White.

  6. BY Damian says:

    I have no idea how you came up with those numbers… I work at a big bank in the capital markets IT department, I just stood up and looking around our pretty huge floor of low wall cubicles. Maybe 30% of the people are white… And that’s high… At another bank I was one of THREE white faces on the whole floor…

    I’ve been doing this for 20 years… Sorry, I call nonsense on your numbers, they don’t agree with my experience at all.

  7. BY Joe says:

    The percentage of Asians in this article is WAY too low.

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