A new report by the Kapor Center and NAACP found the tech sector has not only stalled but regressed in achieving racial equity, reported Axios. Per the joint State of Tech Diversity: The Black Tech Ecosystem report, Black representation in technology is vital toward fighting systemic bias and socioeconomic racism in the industry.
The racial disparity in computer science can be traced back to schools, reported Axios. Black students were reported to lack access to crucial academic resources such as computer science courses, qualified teachers and classes to introduce them to the science and technology fields at the same rate as white or Asian students, per the report.
More on the Kapor Center/NAACP report from Axios:
Nearly 25% of Black students still lack access to computers or reliable high-speed internet in their homes, according to the report’s findings.
Only 8% of Bachelor’s degrees conferred in 2020 in computer science were earned by Black graduates, a decrease from 9% in 2016.
As an industry, tech produced only a 1% increase in Black representation within technical roles at large tech companies, while nearly half of Black technologists reported experiencing racial inequality in getting hired, promoted and in their compensation.
The lack of preparation on the educational level inevitably affects students’ advancement into the workforce. Per the report, Black workers represent 13 percent of the tech workforce, just 4 percent of executive leadership roles and are often offered employment in lower positions than their qualifications demand. Even in the entrepreneurial space, Black startup founders have received only one percent of the capital allocated from the $290 billion invested in startups nationwide between 2020 and 2021.
“There are very real economic consequences for Black communities, including lack of access to high-growth, high-wage jobs; risk of job displacement due to automation; and inability to create wealth through entrepreneurship and investment,” said Allison Scott, Kapor Center CEO via the report.
Though the tech ecosystem seems to be failing in achieving equity and inclusion, not all hope is lost toward changing these statistics for the better.
Kapor Center’s report included a call of action detailing the ways the tech industry and higher education can increase Black representation. These action items include expanding computer science education in grades K-12, implementing programs to support Black computer science educators, investing in HBCUs as well as addressing the barriers to entering and completing a computer science degree.
“To increase the number and percentage of Black people in the computing workforce, we need educational service providers, tech companies, and the government to be transparent with their data, accountable with their actions, and innovative with their solutions,” said Ivory Toldson, NAACP National Director of Education Innovation and Research Strategy via the report.