In the research that informed this blog post, I learned that “POC” has a very different meaning in the tech world, usually referring to “Proof of Concept” as opposed to “People of Color” which is how I’ve always used the acronym! That struck me as kind of a metaphor for what’s happening when it comes to racial equity and “STEM” (Science, Techonology, Engineering and Math) (or lack thereof…). So I want to use this blog post to start the conversation about race and technology. More to come, but first …
for this awesome initiative from Technical.ly to feature and showcase Technologists of Color (in Philadelphia). I especially like this paragraph from their announcement:
… We will capture the voices of local stakeholders. It’s a response to the accurate observation that underrepresented groups in tech (women, people of color, LGBTQ+) are all too often asked to speak about their identity and not their areas of expertise.
I have some folks in mind to nominate … how about you? Let’s get going!
Show me the numbers
Some articles point to Tracy Chou’s popular blog post and Erika Baker’s salary transparency project at Google for catalyzing pressure on big tech companies to report on race and gender representation across their employees, as well as the increasing influence of grassroots and watchdog organizations like Project Include. It’s still not easy to find reputable, up to date information which makes this data nerd want to pull her hair out (and she has LOTS of hair!). Plus, some sources I found are more interested in gender equity than equity across race and ethnicity, when it’s clear to me that we really can’t have the former without the latter.
So, I wanted to highlight a few sources that
- once compiled
- are trying to compile
data on underrepresented communities in the technology industry. Fortunately, the National Science Foundation has some great resources available online, with new releases pretty regularly – but the downside is that they are not very user friendly. Check out the resources for yourself, and for you data viz whiz’s, let us if you’re able to create any great insights!
This article (screen grab to the right) presents some nice #infographics but I can’t find any updates since 2014! (And it looks like this other project on a similar theme didn’t really take off…) Nonetheless, I think it was comprehensive at the time and their methods look decent to me. Just a warning – the risk of comparing metrics by percentages (as opposed to total number of staff) is that you can lose the impact of SCALE. So make sure to read some of the analysis and explanation where they delve into that question with more detail!
They also raise some good questions – should we be comparing diversity metrics to the general US population or to college graduates with Computer Science degrees? Should we focus on racial equity in well established tech companies or start ups competing for venture capital? I think I might have to save that discussion for another post, but if you have ideas, feel free to share a comment to get a discussion started 🙂
Sometimes the best thing bloggers can do is leave out our own commentary and just give credit where credit’s due, especially to the folks who’s shoulders we stand on when it comes to technology innovation:
- like folks featured in this article featuring Black technologists across history
- or this list of Black Women game changers in STEM
- or this list of contemporary Latina technologists (you can add your name, too)
Yes, folks of color are underrepresented, there are still many BRILLIANT technologists of color doing amazing work every day! These articles and directories are only the tip of the iceberg. There’s really no excuse for technology events and conferences lacking PAID POC speakers and keynotes. But… that’s another topic for another time.