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Silicon Valley Meritocracy Myth Takes Another Blow as Qualified Minorities Not Hired

Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley’s image to the outside world is that most American of conceits – a meritocracy where people are rewarded for what they know not who they know. The meritocracy myth has taken a series of hits lately as major firms have disclosed that the companies are overwhelmingly owned and operated by white men with privileged backgrounds.

Combine the employee demographics with recent reviews of the history of Silicon Valley that show it is mostly a product of government subsidy – particularly the Department of Defense – and the legends of bootstrapping entrepreneurs making a dent in the universe seem considerably inaccurate and self-serving. Not to mention the role government research has played in the founding and product development of most of the major Silicon Valley companies from Apples Macintosh to Google’s algorithm.

But Silicon Valley has nothing if not a grasp on public relations. There even exists a go-to excuse for why the valley looks so different than much of America – not enough qualified people to join the white male incumbents. The problem? A recent analysis by USA Today reveals that there are more than enough qualified minorities to fill the jobs Silicon Valley has available.

Top universities turn out black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering graduates at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them, a USA TODAY analysis shows. Technology companies blame the pool of job applicants for the severe shortage of blacks and Hispanics in Silicon Valley…

On average, just 2% of technology workers at seven Silicon Valley companies that have released staffing numbers are black; 3% are Hispanic. But last year, 4.5% of all new recipients of bachelor’s degrees in computer science or computer engineering from prestigious research universities were African American, and 6.5% were Hispanic, according to data from the Computing Research Association. The USA TODAY analysis was based on the association’s annual Taulbee Survey, which includes 179 U.S. and Canadian universities that offer doctorates in computer science and computer engineering.

In other words, no, there is not a “shortage” of qualified minorities that can work in the tech sector.. Silicon Valley just likes a certain type of employee with a certain type of background. That doesn’t mean those that are working in Silicon Valley are not competent it does mean that getting hired is not all a function of being the best person for the job.

Though based on some recent court cases it may be awhile before workers of any background get properly compensated. Of course to have your wages stolen you have to get hired in the first place.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Silicon Valley Meritocracy Myth Takes Another Blow As Qualified Minorities Not Hired

Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley’s image to the outside world is that most American of conceits – a meritocracy where people are rewarded for what they know not who they know. The meritocracy myth has taken a series of hits lately as major firms have disclosed that the companies are overwhelmingly owned and operated by white men with privileged backgrounds.

Combine the employee demographics with recent reviews of the history of Silicon Valley that show it is mostly a product of government subsidy – particularly the Department of Defense – and the legends of bootstrapping entrepreneurs making a dent in the universe seem considerably inaccurate and self-serving. Not to mention the role government research has played in the founding and product development of most of the major Silicon Valley companies from Apples Macintosh to Google’s algorithm.

But Silicon Valley has nothing if not a grasp on public relations. There even exists a go-to excuse for why the valley looks so different than much of America – not enough qualified people to join the white male incumbents. The problem? A recent analysis by USA Today reveals that there are more than enough qualified minorities to fill the jobs Silicon Valley has available.

Top universities turn out black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering graduates at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them, a USA TODAY analysis shows. Technology companies blame the pool of job applicants for the severe shortage of blacks and Hispanics in Silicon Valley…

On average, just 2% of technology workers at seven Silicon Valley companies that have released staffing numbers are black; 3% are Hispanic. But last year, 4.5% of all new recipients of bachelor’s degrees in computer science or computer engineering from prestigious research universities were African American, and 6.5% were Hispanic, according to data from the Computing Research Association. The USA TODAY analysis was based on the association’s annual Taulbee Survey, which includes 179 U.S. and Canadian universities that offer doctorates in computer science and computer engineering.

In other words, no, there is not a “shortage” of qualified minorities that can work in the tech sector.. Silicon Valley just likes a certain type of employee with a certain type of background. That doesn’t mean those that are working in Silicon Valley are not competent it does mean that getting hired is not all a function of being the best person for the job.

Though based on some recent court cases it may be awhile before workers of any background get properly compensated. Of course to have your wages stolen you have to get hired in the first place.

Photo from Coolcaesar under Creative Commons license.

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Brandon Jordan

Brandon Jordan

Brandon Jordan is a freelance journalist in Queens, NY and written for publications such as The Nation, In These Times, Truthout and more.