Who's Benefitting From the Boom in Tech Jobs?

There's a boom in the economy - specifically in the text sector - and with the long list of jobs listed on websites like Google and Facebook, it seems like a good time for the young, nerdy and tech-savvy.

But who's really going to be filling those jobs? Last month minority groups picketed outside of Google's Mountain View headquarters, saying that tech companies in Silicon Valley needed to do a better job at hiring native born Blacks, Latinos and other minority groups. According to a press release by the protest groups which included the Black Economic Council, the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce and the National Asian American Coalition:

The available data demonstrates that no industry may have a worse record in California in the hiring of Blacks, Latinos, Southeast Asian Americans and women than Google, Apple and Oracle. Based on data from the 12 Silicon Valley companies that [publicly] released their EEO-1 data, the minority groups' expert states that Google's Black employees, for example, could be at just one percent, Latinos at two percent and women at the 20 percent level. In contrast, Stanford, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, has an entering freshman class that has 17.2 percent Latinos and 11.1 percent Blacks.

Companies like Google and Yahoo didn't volunteer information on their employee make ups but reiterated their support of diversity. The lack of American born minority representation within high-tech firms caused the picketers to raise the old H-1 B debate and whether high skilled workers from other countries are taking jobs that Americans could fill. It certainly cannot be argued that there's a lack of interest in technology among these groups. A Pew study found that a large number of Twitter's trending topics are fueled by African Americans tweets, who make up 25 percent of Twitter users.

I think we have to ask whether it's a question of wanting to hire cheaper foreign workers, or is it about slim numbers of qualified young Black and Latino graduates? I don't know the answer to that. But if it's the latter, there's a larger digital divide at stake that needs to be addressed as the economy shifts to one focused on technology. Tech companies like Google could benefit the public good by sharing employment data that helps us to understand what this gap might look like and what can be done about it.

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