Archive for February 16, 2010

Blacks, Latinos and women lose ground in Silicon Valley

Hispanics and blacks made up a smaller share of the valley’s computer workers in 2008 than they did in 2000, a Mercury News review of federal data shows, even as their share grew across the nation. Women in computer-related occupations saw declines around the country, but they are an even smaller proportion of the work force here.

The trend is striking in a region where Hispanics are nearly one-quarter of the working-age population — five times their percentage of the computer work force — and when dual-career couples and female MBAs are increasingly the norm.

via Blacks, Latinos and women lose ground at Silicon Valley tech companies – San Jose Mercury News.

While it may be true that talent does not distribute evenly, it’s hard to believe that so few Hispanics, blacks, and women have the talent for Silicon Valley tech firms.  There’s an explanation later in the piece that speaks to computing education themes.

Other reasons, experts say, include a history of valley companies hiring well-trained tech workers from the Pacific Rim, a weak pipeline of homegrown candidates, and a hypercompetitive business environment that leaves little time to develop workers.

Those latter two points are issues that we’ve discussed previously here.  Computing education in the United States is in poor shape.  There are few opportunities for working adults to develop themselves and improve their marketability in technology. The rest of the article points out that the problem is getting better nationally, but not in Silicon Valley, but because the Valley serves as the model for the rest of the country (“This is like ‘top gun school’ for Techies,” said one expert quoted in the article), the concern is that the trends there could be a drag on the rest of the country.

February 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm 6 comments

Equity and Opportunity Threatened by Growing National “Excellence Gap”

The report described in this article is doing something slightly different than measure the gap between majority and minority group students.  This report compares the top whites to the top Hispanics to the top blacks.  They come up with some quantifiable and scary claims.

The report estimates it could take 72 years to close the gap between whites and Hispanics in grade four mathematics; 31 years to close the gap between whites and blacks; and 128 years to close the gap between grade four English Language Learners (ELL) and non-ELL students.

via Equity and Opportunity Threatened by Growing National “Excellence Gap”.

This report is particularly relevant for computing education.  We generally get good students in our classes (e.g., students who make it into our undergraduate CS1 are litely literate).  This report says that, even between good students, the differences between ethnicities, immigrant status, and other majority/minority group affiliations are enormous.

February 16, 2010 at 10:04 am Leave a comment


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