Monday, August 03, 2015

TECHNOLOGY - Diverse Tech Workforce

"Cracking the code to a more diverse tech workforce" PBS NewsHour 8/2/2015


SUMMARY:  The giants of Silicon Valley -- Google, Twitter, Facebook -- report that just three to four percent of their workforce is black or Hispanic, and men outnumber women by more than two to one.  Now, tech companies are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to address the imbalance.  In New York, one camp is training such a new generation of software coders.  NewsHour Special Correspondent Karla Murthy reports.

KARLA MURTHY (NewsHour):  Remember the classic arcade game “Space Invaders?”  These high school kids are building their own version from scratch using “Python,” a computer language they’re learning at coding camp.

These boys are in the middle of a six-week summer program run by “All Star Code,” a non-profit group in New York City that prepares young men of color to work in the tech industry.

17-year-old De Andre King lives in Queens.  He did well in his 10th grade computer class, so his high school counselor encouraged him to apply.

DE ANDRE KING, student:  I didn’t get in the first time.  I did the application again, and when I got the email that morning, I was excited.

KARLA MURTHY:  How has it been so far?

DE ANDRE KING:  It’s been excellent.  It’s kind of, like, I’m doing something every day that I enjoy.  It’s kind of, like, I’m already having my job.

KARLA MURTHY:  A job, even a career, is precisely King’s goal.

DE ANDRE KING:  If I already am well-versed in HTML, CSS, Java, Javascript, Python, then I can now build something and bring it to the table.  That gives me kinda the upper head over my- over, you know, other applicants.

KARLA MURTHY:  Philanthropist Christina Lewis Halpern launched All Star Code two years ago to address the tech industry’s lack of diversity.

She saw organizations dedicated to getting more girls interested in “STEM” — Science, Technology, and Math — but nothing comparable for boys of color.

CHRISTINA LEWIS HALPERN:  People kept on expecting me to come in and talking about girls.   I had to do so much explaining of making the case that boys of color are underrepresented as well.

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