As we step into the celebration of Black History Month, it’s essential to reflect on not just the cultural and historical achievements but also the strides made in the technology sector.
This month, HatchWorks, a leader in the tech industry, takes a proud stand in acknowledging and promoting diversity and inclusion.
Here, we delve into why Black History Month holds significant importance and how HatchWorks is playing a role in enhancing diversity in the tech world.
Current State of Diversity in the US Tech Sector
Let’s take a closer look at the diversity within the US tech sector in 2023. The numbers show us who’s working in tech and highlight some big differences in representation.
Firstly, most people in tech are White Americans, making up 64.1% of the workforce. Asian Americans hold 20% of tech jobs. However, the numbers start to drop with Latinx Americans and Black Americans, who have 8% and 7% of tech jobs, respectively.
When we compare these figures to the overall US population, we see a mismatch. For instance, Black Americans make up 14% of the US population but only hold 7% of tech jobs. This gap tells us there’s a significant issue with how diverse the tech sector really is.
Similarly, Latinx Americans and women are not as represented in tech as they are in the general workforce. Latinx Americans are almost 14% of all workers but only 8% in tech. Women, who are nearly half of all workers (48%), are less represented in tech, with a presence of just 36%.
These numbers are more than just statistics. They give us a real sense of who is and isn’t getting opportunities in tech. Understanding this helps us see where changes are needed to make the tech industry more inclusive for everyone.
At major tech companies like Facebook, there has been an increase in workforce representation over five years, with a 25% rise in Black women and a 10% increase in Black men.
However, pay disparities remain a concern. According to SHRM, Black IT professionals earn, on average, 6.95% less than their counterparts, with an average wage of $134,000 compared to $144,000 for White employees and $145,000 for Asian workers.
The 2022 Dice Report further highlights the challenges, noting that 24% of tech professionals experienced direct racial discrimination in the past year, with 53% of Black tech professionals frequently observing racial inequality.
The tech sector stands on the shoulders of countless trailblazers who have paved the way for future advancements.
Among these pioneers, Black professionals have made indelible contributions that have shaped the industry as we know it today.
Their stories are not just inspiring; they are fundamental chapters in the history of technology.
Profiles of Trailblazers
Roy L. Clay Sr.
Roy L. Clay Sr. is a name synonymous with Silicon Valley’s early days. Known as the “Godfather of Silicon Valley,” Clay’s vision and expertise in computer science were instrumental in establishing Hewlett-Packard’s computer division.
His work laid the foundation for what would become one of the world’s leading tech hubs. Beyond HP, Clay founded Rod-L Electronics, a company renowned for setting industry standards in electrical equipment safety.
His remarkable achievements earned him a place in the Silicon Valley Engineering Council Hall of Fame in 2003, a testament to his enduring impact on the tech industry.
Katherine Johnson’s story is one of extraordinary talent and determination. Starting college at the age of 15, she later joined NASA’s Langley Research Center, where she calculated trajectories for pivotal missions like Mercury and Apollo 11.
Johnson’s work was critical, even as the age of electronic computers dawned, proving the irreplaceable value of human intellect. In 2015, her groundbreaking contributions were recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Her life and achievements, brought to the fore in the film ‘Hidden Figures,’ continue to inspire and break barriers in STEM.
Evelyn Boyd Granville
Evelyn Boyd Granville, the second Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale in 1949, played a crucial role in the aerospace industry. After contributing to missile fuse development, she joined IBM and became integral to NASA’s Project Mercury and the Apollo program.
Granville later returned to IBM as a senior mathematician and dedicated much of her career to education, advocating for women and minorities in STEM fields.
Her passion for teaching and promoting STEM education has inspired countless individuals to pursue careers in technology.
Frank Greene Jr.
Frank Greene Jr. made significant strides in the 1960s with the development of high-speed semiconductor computer-memory systems at Fairchild Semiconductor R&D Labs. He was not just a remarkable inventor; Greene also became a key figure in promoting minority entrepreneurship.
He founded two tech companies and established NewVista Capital, a venture capital firm focused on supporting minority and female-led enterprises.
His induction into the Silicon Valley Engineering Council’s Hall of Fame and his philanthropic efforts in education underscore his lasting legacy in technology and commitment to diversifying the sector.
Spotlight on Contemporary Innovators
The technological landscape is continually evolving, shaped by the minds and hands of innovative thinkers.
In recent times, a number of Black innovators have made significant strides, carving out new paths and bringing diverse perspectives to the forefront of technology.
These contemporary figures not only contribute groundbreaking work but also inspire the next generation of tech enthusiasts.
Kimberly Bryant stands out as a beacon of inspiration and advocacy. As the founder of Black Girls Code, Bryant has dedicated herself to empowering young Black girls to explore and excel in technology careers.
Her organization is not just about teaching coding; it’s a movement to increase opportunities and exposure for Black girls in the world of computer science.
Bryant’s work is pivotal in creating a more diverse and inclusive tech landscape for the future.
Mark Dean’s contributions to technology are foundational to the very devices we use every day. As a computer engineer and inventor, Dean was instrumental in the development of the IBM personal computer.
Holding three of IBM’s original nine PC patents, he was a central figure in creating the color PC monitor and the first gigahertz chip.
Dean’s innovations have laid the groundwork for the modern personal computing experience.
With a career spanning over 25 years, Lisa Gelobter has been a key player in the evolution of internet technologies.
She has been involved in developing pioneering technologies like Shockwave and Hulu, significantly contributing to the realm of online video.
Gelobter’s work has shaped how we consume media online, making her a significant figure in the tech industry.
Timnit Gebru stands out as a leading advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in Artificial Intelligence (AI).
As the co-founder of the Black in AI initiative and founder of The Distributed AI Research Institute, Gebru has been a vocal and influential figure.
Her recognition by Time as one of the world’s 100 most influential people underscores her impact in pushing for more inclusive AI development and research.
Dr. Clarence Ellis
Dr. Clarence Ellis, the first Black American to earn a Ph.D. in computer science, has left an indelible mark on the field.
His work on operational transformation, a key technology in collaborative software, has been fundamental in how we interact and collaborate digitally.
Ellis’ contributions have been vital in shaping modern computing.
Janet Emerson Bashen
Janet Emerson Bashen is a testament to innovation and entrepreneurship.
Known for her work in software, she patented LinkLine, an EEO case management and tracking software.
Bashen stands out as the first Black American woman to hold a software patent, marking a significant milestone in the tech industry.
These contemporary innovators represent the cutting edge of technology and diversity. Their contributions are not just advancements in their respective fields, but they also serve as powerful symbols of progress, breaking barriers and opening doors for future generations of diverse tech professionals.
Key Steps for Improvement in the Tech Industry
The journey towards a more inclusive and diverse tech industry is ongoing and requires concerted efforts across multiple fronts.
Acknowledging the achievements of Black professionals in tech is just the beginning.
The real work lies in transforming the industry to be more equitable and representative of the world we live in.
Here are some key steps that can drive this transformation:
Promoting Equal Access to EducationEducation is the cornerstone of opportunity. The tech industry must actively support initiatives that provide equal access to STEM education, particularly for underrepresented communities. This involves investing in educational programs, offering scholarships, and creating pathways for young people from diverse backgrounds to explore and thrive in tech careers.
Bridging the Digital DivideAccess to technology is not a luxury; it’s a necessity in the modern world. The tech industry must play a pivotal role in bridging the digital divide by ensuring that communities have access to the internet, computers, and other digital tools. This effort is crucial in leveling the playing field, allowing everyone the opportunity to participate in and contribute to the tech landscape.
Implementing Inclusive Hiring PracticesDiversity in the workplace doesn’t happen by accident. It requires deliberate and inclusive hiring practices. This means re-evaluating recruitment processes, removing biases, and creating a more inclusive environment that not only attracts but also retains diverse talent. Companies need to look beyond traditional talent pools and recognize the value of diverse perspectives and experiences.
Cultivating Supportive Work EnvironmentsA truly diverse workforce flourishes in an environment where everyone feels valued and included. This involves more than just hiring a diverse team; it’s about cultivating a workplace culture that supports, respects, and embraces differences. Mentorship programs, diversity training, and inclusive policies are essential in creating such an environment.
HatchWorks’ Commitment to Celebrating Black Achievements
As we reflect on the significant contributions of Black professionals in the tech industry, it’s clear that their achievements are not just milestones but also powerful catalysts for change.
Celebrating these achievements is crucial in inspiring future generations and in highlighting the importance of diversity in driving innovation and progress.
HatchWorks recognizes the critical role it plays in this landscape. Their commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion is not just about acknowledging past achievements but is a promise for the future.
This commitment is essential not only for the growth of their organization but for the advancement of the industry as a whole.