Tech industry is leaving behind women of color, report shows

How are women of color are faring in tech? Not so good.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
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Erin Carson
2 min read

Women of color earn less than 10 percent of bachelor's degrees in computing, the report says.


Women of color are entrepreneurs. But if you look at the tech scene, you'd hardly know it.

A new study from the Kapor Center, Pivotal Ventures and Arizona State University's Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology found that women of color make up 80 percent of all new women-led small businesses in the US. In tech, however, that figure plummets to 4 percent.

This is just one stat highlighted in Women and Girls of Color in Computing, a report released Monday.

The study comes at a time when we've come to expect annual diversity reports from large tech companies like Facebook, Apple, Google, but those reports don't include a full range of statistics. One of the most notable breakdowns often left out is the percentage of women of color at the company. Women of color often get lumped into the broader category of women.

In short, there's not enough data out there that focuses on women on color. And that can be problematic. As the report put it: "Without identifying and understanding the specific challenges facing women of color in the computing and technology pipeline, any interventions made will be exclusionary, insufficient, and ineffective."

Low numbers of women of color can also mean missed economic opportunity for a chunk of the population that's projected to make up the majority of women by 2060. Tech and IT jobs are some of the fastest-growing, highest-paying jobs out there. And that's not to mention the chance to help shape burgeoning technologies that will impact the future.

The report covers all levels along the tech career path, from the high school classroom to the tech company board room.

For example, women of color earn less than 10 percent of bachelor's degrees in computing.

When it comes to tech leadership positions, Hispanic women make up less 1 percent and black women make up less than 0.5 percent.

Although white women and Asian women tend to participate at similar rates in the workforce, the report found that Asian women are far less likely to end up in a leadership role.

The study also shows how Silicon Valley differs from the wider tech industry across the US. For example, 12 percent of women who work in computing and information science occupations across the US are black or Hispanic. Meanwhile in Silicon Valley, only 2 percent of women working in tech are black, Hispanic, Native American or Native Alaskan.

About 1 percent of venture capitalists are black women, and Hispanic women come in at 0 (yes, zero) percent, compared with white women at 11 percent and Asian women at 6 percent.  

"The current and pervasive lack of racial/ethnic and gender diversity in the technology ecosystem presents a significant national challenge," the report said. 

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