The data released by Google in their diversity report highlights an issue. Unfortunately it’s not just their issue, it’s a sector-based issue. It turns out that Google is made up of a bunch of white dudes. Sounds like a slightly nerdier version of Congress but with more power.
The breakdown is currently:
And it doesn’t end there, gender is also an area of issue with only 30% of their workforce made up of females and with only 21% holding leadership positions and 17% in technology-specific jobs. At the same time we look at this data we can’t scold Google for it. The problem is that the system itself generated this demographic years ago. Let’s think for a moment about who went into technology about 20 to 25 years ago and would now be running it in their 30s, 40s and 50s. To give you an idea, I did a quick image search for “dungeons and dragons players” and here’s what I saw:
And these are the folks who, back then, went on to own Commodore Vic 20s, 64s and later …. work at Google.
So the question becomes, how do we attract a larger diversity of people into the sector? To me the biggest “to do” is insure that schools, especially those in areas where white-and-nerdy isn’t the majority, need to be equipped with computers and technology training. Further, the stigma attached to being a “computer geek” in high school needs to be worked on, especially for girls and non-white folks. As one of those “white and nerdy” people myself I know that I was easily able to find a group like me back in school. And for the most part, it was a bunch of other white guys and we’d play cards and schedule out how to get into the same computer science class. Heck, we still game together almost every Friday evening even though we live on opposite sides of the country. I suspect that this same clique either doesn’t exist in schools where whites are the minority or the technology isn’t available; likely both.
I’d recommend to talk to your congress but the demographics are seriously about the same there so perhaps the problem itself lies in us, the voting masses. If we want to change the diversity we need to provide the technology and work to make it appealing. I know my kids are learning game design and 3D printing in school. Their teacher is giving them projects that appeal to what they like doing, we need to get the same accesses into every school to make this “white and nerdy” sector more diverse through making it more appealing as a course-set to take.
In the meantime, this is who will be running our technology firms: