I usually stay quiet on social issues on this channel. But there are moments when the news cycle hits a subject near and dear to my heart. This issue is diversity in technology. I’ve been in technology for over 15 years now and haven’t become numb to the lack of presence of minorities in technology. This is a topic that doesn’t get much attention and it frustrates me. It frustrates me because I know the power of technology to life an entire culture into a level of economic and social prosperity never seen at scale. We have the perfect example in developing countries such as India and China. In the case of India, the impact of the investment in engineers is undeniable. Technology is an economic engine for a nation of 1 billion people.
I personally have greatly benefited from my personal investment in my technical education. I can without doubt say that I would not have been able to lift my family out of poverty without the opportunities granted to me via the technology industry. This is why the Google report on their diversity upsets me so much. Google’s engineering workforce is 1% Black and 2% Hispanic. I’m not so far removed from an entire community of poverty that I’ve forgotten the feeling of hopelessness and despair. For a large number of my family and friends the thought of making $70,000 let alone $100,000 , is unfathomable.
This isn’t an issue that is unique to Google. This is an issue in technology in general but is pronounced in Silicon Valley. I spent 6 months working in Silicon Valley on a project for a Fortune 500 company. I also had the pleasure of attending a Tech Field Day event. While everyone I worked with was extremely professional and very kind, I couldn’t help but to feel uncomfortable about the lack of diversity in the greater tech community in the valley.
There are several issues that prevent minorities from breaking into this industry. The challenges range from education opportunities, general social challenges and the lack of effort from the industry to reach out to these communities. At the end of the day, I believe that diversity is needed for sustained health of the tech industry. When tech companies are starting and growing in a vacuum, we risk a large disconnect between a large part of the audience they serve and a general lack of diversity of thought. Whether male or female diversity is an important part of any company, especially one that is made to reach other to different groups of people. I know a few women who work in technology sectors such as programming who have worked hard to get to where they are. You can even read women in programming interviews online to get an idea of what their work-life is like and how they got started in their chosen field.
The report did inspire me and remind me of a major reason why I started my blog and why I choose to do my “TechTalks” as videos as opposed to audio podcasts. It’s important to freely share information that leads to engineers of all cultures improving their skill and furthering their careers. It’s also important to show a face that’s familiar to minorities looking to break into the field.
I’m hoping Google takes major steps in doing what they can to increase diversity not only in their own ranks but in the companies they invest and the overall industry. Google is simply too big to fail.