The Kapor Center, a nonprofit addressing racial inequities in STEM education and the tech industry, in partnership with the NAACP, recently released their 2022 report titled State of Tech Diversity: The Black Tech Ecosystem.
The report analyzes and synthesizes the latest data, demonstrating the continual exclusion of Black talent across the tech ecosystem, which represents a great loss of talent and innovation for one of the major drivers of our nation’s economy.
The report findings reveal that progress towards racial equity is not only stalled, but in many respects, regressing, throughout each phase of the tech pipeline. Black students lack access to broadband, introductory and advanced computer science courses, highly qualified teachers from diverse backgrounds, and culturally responsive pedagogy and curriculum needed to enter the computing pipeline at the same rates as their White and Asian peers. Despite comprising 15 percent of the K-12 student population, Blacks make up just 6 percent of students taking advanced placement computer science courses.
These inequities continue to persist in traditional institutions of higher education, as well as alternative educational pathways, impacting opportunities for Black students. In 2020, only 8 percent of bachelor’s degrees conferred in computer science were earned by Black graduates, a decrease since 2016.
While Blacks represent 13 percent of the labor force, tech company board representation remains stagnant at 3 percent. Blacks hold 4 percent of executive leadership roles and 3.6 percent of technical jobs in the largest U.S.-based tech companies. This percentage has barely budged, despite a decade of focus on tech diversity, pledges, and commitments, according to the report.
In venture capital, a chasm persists between stated commitments to equity and funding trends – with only 1.3 percent of the nearly $290 billion in funding this past year going to Black-founded companies. Just 222 of the 11,790 companies receiving venture capital investment were Black-founded.
“The consequences of inaction in the tech industry are significant for Black communities,” said Allison Scott, CEO of the Kapor Center. “Technological advancement continues to drive our economy and transform the nature of work, and the exclusion of Black talent from this sector impacts innovation, product creation, economic mobility, and is a significant driver of inequality.”