Even as Silicon Valley Thrives, Minorities Lag Behind in Areas of Education & Income

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February 15, 2013 ‐ By Ann Brown
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While fortunes — personal and economic — are being made in Silicon Valley, there are some who are enjoying the fruits of the Valley more than others.

“A large and growing education deficit keeps too many residents from sharing in the new prosperity,” wrote Joint Venture Silicon Valley President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Russell Hancock in a new report’s introduction (via ABC News). “Incomes continue to slip for our Hispanic and African American populations, while rising for other groups.”

According to the recently released Index of Silicon Valley, African-American and Hispanic students are performing worse in school than their white and Asian peers, which means means a lag in minorities entering the tech industry. As a result, minorities face widening wage gaps among other obstacles.

Acknowledging some differences from the boundaries that are typically included in the definition of Silicon Valley, the study shows that socioeconomic issues that aren’t a big problem in the area plague blacks and Hispanics more than other groups. For example, more than half (60 percent) of Asians in Silicon Valley have a bachelor’s degree, but only 23 percent of Hispanics do. This is due in part, theorizes the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, a Latino-advocacy organization, to lower rates of English-reading comprehension, and they often have parents who are not familiar with the American education system, particularly when it comes to applying for college.

Per capita income also took a startling dip among Latinos (five percent) and African Americans (18 percent).

“As our economy continues to grow, and as that growth takes on a wider footprint,” Hancock wrote, “the 2013 Index challenges us to think more expansively about all the associated challenges, to become more regionally integrated, and to ensure that our growth is more widely shared.”

Moreover, it reinforces the need to concentrate on improving access to education and training for STEM careers. If students in the geographical heart of the technology industry are having a problem excelling, there’s a big problem we have to solve.

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