Tech Must Become More Diverse: EEOC


The tech sector must become more diverse, suggests a new report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

“Discussion of the lack of gender, racial and ethnic diversity in the high tech industries generally divides into two themes: the ‘pipeline’ problem—STEM occupations attracting white men—and the inhospitable culture in relevant industries and occupations,” the report stated. That inhospitable culture, in turn, forces “women and minorities to tolerate the environment or leave the field.”

The report goes on to suggest that the technology industry’s high rate of change could hamper diversity efforts: “Firms are facing more opportunities for change, requiring more adjustments to the workforce. When skills need to be adjusted, firms may find that it pays to buy the skills instead of developing them.” In other words, although Google and other tech firms claim that tinkering with the educational pipeline will increase the diversity of the tech workforce, that’s potentially a very long-term solution to a short-term problem.

The report also isolated a number of “concerning” trends:

  • Among tech executives, 80 percent were men, noticeably higher than the rate outside the technology industry: “Within the overall private sector, 71 percent of Executive positions are men and about 29 percent are women.”
  • Other groups are also underrepresented in the tech industry’s executive category, including African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans.
  • When compared to the overall private sector, the report continued, “the high tech sector employed a larger share of whites (63.5 percent to 68.5 percent), Asian Americans (5.8 percent to 14 percent) and men (52 percent to 64 percent), and a smaller share of African Americans (14.4 percent to 7.4 percent), Hispanics (13.9 percent to 8 percent), and women (48 percent to 36 percent).”

Over the past few years, the tech industry has engaged in an ample amount of hand-wringing over its diversity numbers, with a number of prominent firms—including Apple and Google—releasing annual reports that break down their respective workforces’ diversity. Several have instituted policies designed to make their employee base more diverse, although it could be years before such efforts bear fruit.

In the meantime, according to the EEOC, the lack of diversity among tech workers, as well as ensuring that all workers have the skills and credentials they need, “have become central public policy concerns.”

One Response to “Tech Must Become More Diverse: EEOC”

  1. Mary McNamara

    I lasted much longer in IT than any woman I’ve known…and longer than nearly any man I’ve known. I am in the process of getting back into the field as a contractor now, but it is much, much more difficult than it has ever been due primarily to IT culture issues along with increasing software complexities, especially the need to integrate a variety of emerging platforms with many legacy platforms where there is little API consistency, a problem affecting applications, data and security. The main problem that I see is that management itself does not understand the technologies and fears hiring people unless they are experts in nearly all of the technologies. Unfortunately, white males and especially asian males train and support each other informally on the job, so they wind up ahead of the other diversity groups.