Government study shows lack of diversity in tech

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A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report details a lack of racial diversity among technology firms, particularly among black employees.

The report, commissioned by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and one of few government studies on the topic, is the latest in a growing stack of research illustrating the homogeneity in the tech workforce.

The GAO’s Diversity in Tech report found that Hispanic workers remain underrepresented at tech firms, while the number of black employees in tech has not increased in a “statistically significant” way.


The report also noted that female, black and Hispanic individuals make up a smaller proportion of the technology workforce than they do the U.S. workforce at large.

Scott and other lawmakers including Democratic Reps. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.) and Barbara Lee (Calif.) argued during a press call on Thursday that there isn’t an issue in the availability of black workers ready to fill technology positions in Silicon Valley.

Scott pointed to statistics that show more equitable representation of black and Hispanic workers employed outside of the tech sector.

“If we did have a true shortage, other industries should show equally bad representation as the tech sector,” added William Spriggs, chief economist at the AFL-CIO and professor of economics at Howard University, who also spoke on the call.

A fact sheet accompanying the report noted that “Hispanic workers earned ten percent, and Black workers seven percent, of Bachelors and Masters in technology degrees, yet they represent only five percent or less of the professionals and mid-level managers in the leading technology companies.”

Scott, Lee and others blamed part of this on Silicon Valley’s “word of mouth” recruitment culture, which they say is reliant on employees at tech firms hiring new staff by staying within their networks.

“These networks may be largely comprised of the same race and this practice therefore makes it harder for potential candidates from demographically different groups to have their résumés reviewed,” the GAO report explained.

Tags Barbara Lee Bobby Scott G.K. Butterfield

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