The tech industry fancies itself a great equalizer in society, empowering individuals to do extraordinary things with the latest digital wizardry.
And yet a common question lingers, voiced by friends and colleagues who pointedly ask: Where are the blacks in Silicon Valley? The Hispanics? The women?
Their exasperation is well founded.
What has been an open secret in tech circles, deflected and glossed over by executives, is at last coming to the fore: The industry comes nowhere close to reflecting the composition of its customers.
This was made painfully clear Tuesday by a Yahoo diversity report — the latest in a string of depressing demographic information compilations from tech companies — that underscores alarming racial and gender gaps.
The numbers are stark. Half of Yahoo’s 12,000 employees are white and 39% are Asian; only 4% are Hispanic and 2% black. Just 37% are women. Nationally, women make up 47% of the workforce. The population is 64% white, 16% black, 12% Hispanic and 5% Asian, according to the 2012 U.S. Census.
Yahoo’s numbers mirror similar reports from Google and LinkedIn, fueling the long-held debate that has raged over tech and the impoverished. In a country sharply divided by income and class status, in no area is it as pronounced as in technology.
Silicon Valley has “been a bastion of sexism,” says Vivek Wadhwa, a fierce critic of the valley’s white male-dominated culture and author of the forthcoming book Innovating Women.
Speaking at the Cannes Lions Festival on Wednesday, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg called the lack of diversity in tech “pretty depressing.”
Source: USA Today | Jon Swartz