All Articles Tagged "african americans in Silicon Valley"
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.
Women in the tech industry are few and far between. Although more women than ever are entering the work world, only 25 percent of them find their way to Silicon Valley. Of that 25 percent, African American women make up a mere 1.5 percent. This is the problem that startup accelerator NewME is striving to fix and Mashable.com reports that the San-Francisco program based is working.
Tech extraordinaire Angela Benton, who is also a black woman, knows first-hand how tough it is to break into the tech scene and observed the few African Americans she met along the way. While Benton believes that the education system’s lack of exposure to tech careers to minorities puts them at an initial disadvantage, there are other factors that contribute to small minority and women numbers in the tech field.
“We have to factor in other things, like access to mentors and role models, and even very simple things, like explaining to individuals how to even start to enter the field is huge,” she told Mashable.
Her startup accelerator is a 12-week program that helps to support and nurture the big ideas of aspiring minority tech entrepreneurs. NewMe provides mentorship, discussion and networking opportunities. At the end of each program is a “demo day,” which allows participants the chance to present their ideas and products to well-connected attendees. The accelerator has two programs each year, with an average of about eight participants each session spending the entire spring or fall living and working in San Francisco while they get their ideas started.
“NewME participants’ stories about their experiences in the tech industry are so varied,” Benton said. “I get to talk to the founders that we have in the accelerator, and I get to hear what people have experienced nationally, via the nearly 1,000 people we have in NewME community.”
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