The fact is we can’t solve the employment disparity problem until we fix the educational and job training disparity problem which starts in middle school, gets worse in high school, and reaches dismal levels in college and post-grad. Women,African Americans, and Latinos are way underrepresented in computer science and other STEM degree programs.Here’s some numbers that show the work we have to do to build a pipeline for a future tech scene that is diverse, and as a result creating solutions for a diverse nation and world:
- In the past 30 years, women getting bachelor’s degrees in computer sciences have actually declined. (link)
- Underrepresented ethnic groups made up almost 28% of our national population in 2006, yet just 9% percent of college-educated Americans in science and engineering occupations. The proportion would need to triple to match their share of the overall U.S. population. (link)
- Only 74 black students took the AP Computer science exam in California in 2013. That’s 74 out of almost 5,000 test takers! Our youth aren’t properly prepared to get into college, let alone graduate with a STEM degree! (link)
- The U.S. Department of Education just released a study that found that 81% of Asian-American and 71% of white high school students attend schools where the full range of math and science courses are offered, compared with 43% of Black students and 33% of Latino students… It’s bad y’all. A quarter of high schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students do not even offer Algebra II! (link)
Researchers offer many (and interrelated) explanations for the ongoing achievement gaps. They agree that “family and community differences, school context, low expectations, and lack of exposure to role models, information about career opportunities, and advanced courses affect minority students’ success in mathematics and science.” (link- see page 5)
We think that Google releasing these numbers took guts and shows both leadership and a desire to work to change this. They have partnered with one of our favorite leaders in promoting diversity in STEM: the Kapor Center for Social Impact which they asked to help address their diversity problem. As a Google Bay Area Impact Challenge Top 10 Finalist, Hack the Hood is also proud to be able to partner with Google to begin to plug the leaky pipeline in order to change the tech workforce disparity.
Hack the Hood is committed to reaching youth who are slipping through the cracks. Here are our demographics from last year:
- Gender: 54% Female, 46% Male,
- Low-income: 100%
- Ethnicity: 70% African American, 7% Asian/Pacific Islander, 16% Latino, 7% Native American
- Educational Attainment: 62% not in school/other, 38% still in high school
- Homeless: 8%
We simply can’t afford to waste the potential of our youth. We need their creative minds to attack some of the biggest challenges that face us as a nation and as a planet. We need to unite around providing quality education from preschool through post-graduate education for all our youth. We need universal access to technology and tools for success. We need real, meaningful, and formative opportunities from an early age. Our solutions have to be practical, and relevant to diverse youth. We have to build on the assets we have, and bridge communities to make this happen. Only then will we start to see these numbers change. Only then can we raise a new generation that is strong, smart, diverse, and ready to attack everything from poverty to climate change.
Please advocate for long term reforms in our educational system, and support schools and organizations who are already doing this work in the meantime.
One thing you can do right now is help Google support diversity in tech by voting us into the top 4 in the Google Bay Area Impact Challenge.