In early March 2017, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a break from his office in San Francisco, California to tour all 50 States. His tour landed him at North Carolina A&T State University, and while there he had a talk with students and faculty about diversity in the tech industry.
Discussing race is still very taboo in the tech community, and Zuckerberg wanted to address this issues at one of the top HBCU’s in the country. Zuckerberg was honest, noting that asking for diversity in a white-male dominated space is still a stretch for a lot of hiring managers.
“A lot of people who think that they care about diversity actually still have a lot of these biases that hold them back,” he said.
In their July 2016 Equal Employment Opportunity Report, Facebook reported that Blacks made up 1% of their tech jobs.
"Tech has a huge problem with a culture of disrespect that plays out differently based on different demographics.", said Freada Kapor Klein, Co-Chair at the Kapor Center for Social Impact.
USA Today reported that the tech industry invest $16 Billion a year to increase diversity, but more and more marginalized employees are leaving because they do not fit into the culture. Personal prejudices stop the progression of diversity in tech spaces, which lead to more and more underrepresented voices unemployed and looking for a place in their preferred industry.
Nielsen reported that 29% of African-Americans, ages 18-34, plan on furthering their education within the next 12 months. With interest rising in attending HBCU’s, what are HBCU’s doing to help push more of their students into the tech industry?
Google and Howard are taking the initiative to make sure their is a more diverse culture in the tech industry. “Howard West” is the first step towards changing the landscape. The program will be a 3-month intensive program for computer science juniors and seniors.
Along with “Howard West”, FAMU was just honored by The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education through 2022. HBCU’s are taking the initiative to create the space for students to explore tech on campus, but how does this translate outside of a 4-year institution in an industry that isn’t quite ready for diversity?