Diversity in tech: a different view

“Innovation and disruption do not come from homogeneous groups of people.” —PepsiCo president Brad Jakeman

Credit for this post goes to Selena Larson, who wrote on the problems that some had with the 2015 Anita Borg Institute Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. In particular, she pointed out that diversity efforts in tech focus a lot on gender to the exclusion of race, and that gender diversity in tech is often code for “more white women in tech”. (At least, that’s what I read out of it.)

This all hit very close to home.

I was compelled to take a second look at the UC Berkeley demographics information available in Cal Answers, this time at degrees awarded (i.e., actual outcomes) rather than admissions and student body makeup (inputs). The following table is a full listing of degrees in EECS and CS awarded by UC Berkeley in this millennium, broken down by race and gender.

cs_degrees

In the past 15 years, seven black women have graduated with a computer science degree from UC Berkeley—as the administration likes to tout, the predominant source of elite engineers in Silicon Valley. Seven. Out of a total of several thousand. In more than half of the years—and in one entire six year stretch—not a single black woman graduated out of either EECS or L&S CS. In no year were there more than two. Hispanic women make up not much more.

We are not making any progress.

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