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Diversity in the tech industry: When will we see it?

In Google’s first diversity report, reluctantly released in May 2014, it was confirmed that the company’s workforce is 70 percent male and 62 percent white. Reports from other tech giants showed similar statistics.

The complete report revealed that 30 percent of Google’s employees are Asian, four percent are of mixed race, three percent are of Latin descent, two percent are black, and one percent identified as “other.”

Google recently announced its plans to expand opportunities for women and minorities in its workforce, including free computer science curricula for teachers and an initiative aimed at girls called “Made With Code.” The plan, which will cost an estimated $150 million, will aim half of its efforts toward making Google more inclusive, and the other half will be geared toward outside organizations that encourage minorities and women.

Though Google’s intentions seem to be good, some are a little skeptical of its plans.

“Apparently Google spent $114 million on diversity programs last year,” said freshman Erika Borrero. “But then why did their report show little results of their spending? And shouldn’t they be focusing on interviewing and hiring more minorities first? There are so many women and people of color that are qualified to have good positions in big companies, so they should try giving them jobs first.”

The way to make jobs in the technology industry more open and inviting for women and minorities is by believing they are competent and showing interest in them, not by telling them they are not good as is. By creating programs described as trying to “help girls identify with computer programming,” Google and other well-known companies insinuate, sometimes unintentionally, that women are not interested in technology and that it is a more masculine field, though this is not the case.

Freshman Kirtana Madiraju said, “I think technology is really interesting, and I know a lot of my friends who are also girls think it is intriguing. I do not think this field, or any field, is limited to just boys or just girls. Anyone can like computers or fashion or anything. Gender does not necessarily define that, and we cannot let it.”

Google may be trying to project the image that it is trying to make its employees more respectful and unbiased toward minorities, but some instances indicate otherwise. While attending a diversity panel at SXSW in March 2015, Eric Schmidt (a white, male Google executive) consistently interrupted Megan Smith, the chief technology officer of the United States (a position higher than Schmidt’s), when she was talking. Schmidt was called out by manager of Google’s global diversity and talent programs, Judith Williams.

Besides Google, numerous other famous tech companies are spending millions of dollars on increasing diversity within their staff. Fifty million dollars were donated by Apple to foundations that support people of color, women, and other minorities trying to get involved in the technological field. Intel is planning on donating $300 million toward programs that will educate more minority students in the STEM subjects.

What do you think of these plans? How can more minorities get into the tech field?

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