Study: Plenty of Qualified Blacks, Latinos Available for Tech Jobs

While most tech giants claim that their employees are almost all white, Asian or male because those are the applicants they get, new research stats proves that to be untrue.

Photo by Shutterstock

By Julissa Catalan

Photo by Shutterstock

Photo by Shutterstock

New analysis by USA Today is contradicting what many technology companies have been telling us in defense of their (lack of) diversity data—a shortage in Black and Latino job seekers within the tech industry is not the reason for the demographics in Silicon Valley companies.

While most tech giants claim that their employees are almost all white, Asian or male because those are the applicants they get, new research stats prove that to be untrue.

In fact, Blacks and Latinos majoring in computer science and computer engineering graduate at twice the rate compared to the amount actually being hired within the tech industry.

“What do dominant groups say? ‘We tried, we searched but there was nobody qualified.’ If you look at the empirical evidence, that is just not the case.” said Darrick Hamilton, Professor of Economics and Urban Policy at The New School in New York.

On average, only 2 percent of Silicon Valley employees are Black; 3 percent are Latinos.

“They’re reporting 2 percent and 3 percent, and we’re looking at graduation numbers [for Blacks and Latinos] that are maybe twice that,” said Stuart Zweben, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University.

“Why are they not getting more of a share of at least the doctoral-granting institutions?” said Zweben, who co-authored the 2013 Taulbee Survey report.

The USA Today analysis was based on the Taulbee Survey, which includes 179 American and Canadian universities that offer Ph.D.s in computer science and computer engineering.

According to data from the Computing Research Association, 4.5 percent of bachelor-degree recipients in 2013—majoring in computer science or computer engineering from top research universities—were Black, while 6.5 percent were Latino.

Meanwhile, a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that Blacks and Latinos accounted for 9 percent of computer-science graduates in 2012.

Overall, Blacks make up 12 percent of the U.S. workforce, while Latinos account for 16 percent.

Companies like Apple, Google, Twitter and Yahoo! were all under fire earlier this year when they voluntarily released their diversity data—after much protest.

Apple’s leadership is 64 percent white, 21 percent Asian, 3 percent Black, 6 percent Latino, and 30 percent women.

Google’s leadership is 72 percent white, 23 percent Asian, 2 percent Black, 1 percent Latino, and 21 percent women.

Twitter’s leadership is 72 percent white, 24 percent Asian, 2 percent Black, 2 percent Latino, and 21 percent women.

Yahoo!’s leadership is 78 percent white, 17 percent Asian, 1 percent Black, 2 percent Latino, and 23 percent women.

USA Today asked all the aforementioned companies to comment on the gap between Black and Latino graduation rates and their hiring rates. All of the companies declined.

None of these tech giants have participated in the DiversityInc Top 50 survey.

As a point of comparison, below are senior leadership representation stats from Top 50 companies versus Silicon Valley.

Diversity Leadership Stats


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  • Diversity would be nice but it’s disingenuous to say just because you graduate from a school with a computer science degree you are qualified for a job

    • Luke Visconti

      What are you suggesting? That universities are graduating people who aren’t qualified to perform commensurately with their degrees? Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

      • Actually, yes. The American higher education system values ‘well rounded’ graduates as opposed to being work force ready. Many science and engineering graduates refine most of the required skills necessary to do the job on the job. Most college graduates, including myself as a civil engineer, are qualified to get an entry level job but not necessarily qualified to do any job that is posted within their field.

        • Luke Visconti

          I disagree with you about the higher-education system. Competitive schools have technical degrees (engineering, computer science) with very little room for elective credits. But for the sake of argument, it doesn’t really matter—recent graduates are all equal in the curriculum they had to take to earn the degree. Therefore, the disparities evident in tech companies by race, ethnicity and gender can only be explained by one thing: bias, as the tech companies are not hiring commensurately with degree-earned demographics. I’m afraid there’s no way for you to help the tech companies wiggle out of this, as is evident by Microsoft’s CEO saying that they were going to start a meaningful drive for recruiting equity (after being humiliated after telling the world his true feelings about women in the workplace). I don’t know of a single tech company that is saying it can’t hire people with demographics commensurately with what competitive schools are graduating.

          Mind you, striving to educate and hire equitably is good for the company at hand. It’s the only way to get an even slice of the talent across all demographics. Mathematically, that is the only way to achieve ultimate talent quality. By segregating who you hire, you’re taking a deeper cut of the demographics that you’re giving preference to. A deeper cut means lower quality. This is, of course, counterintuitive to people who think that groups other than the ones they prefer have equal intelligence and capability—even when they’re graduating with the same degrees from the same schools. It is also counterintuitive to companies that are used to their own culture that by fact excludes women and have too much hubris to see how they have been discriminatory. They behave as if the absence of women is women’s fault (they didn’t trust “karma” enough, or they had to “lean in” to the discriminatory culture); these companies wallow in the muck of self-justified excuse.

          Finally, I’m not sure what’s in people’s hearts when they take up the cause of billionaires they don’t even know—except to say that the billionaires are very good at bamboozling people. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

          • Luke, If you want Communism, then go to China. Is it not smart business to get THE MOST QUALIFIED? I am not saying blacks and Latinos are not the most qualified, but if you have a white, black, and Latino guy interviewing and the white guy is most qualified, then you take the black guy right? Great argument Luke.

          • Luke Visconti

            Companies always hire who they feel is best qualified. Diversity management in recruiting is the process by which you make sure you recruit the best and brightest from every demographic. Communism? Are you being silly or are you writing comments from your garage while the engine is still running? Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

          • You’re right. Even female minorities with the appropriate degree from a top university “in the field” tend to get turned down at the face-to-face interview stage of the hiring process. The only possible explanation is that the person must have been presumed to be “white” up until the face-to-face. Some places that will hire white women graduates from, say, M.I.T. or Illinois Tech, will not hire a minority woman from the same alma mater, same graduation year, same grades, same original high school (in other words, same “white” middle-class upbringing). All else being the same, skin colour is the deciding factor.

    • Shekel Drachma

      Interesting perspective, Don. Especially in light of the fact that throughout my silicon valley IT tenure, I have personally run across large numbers of “non-Black or Hispanic” colleagues whose college majors were either not in computer science or IT, or many who had no college degree at all.

  • Fredrick W. Lee

    The problem is that many organizations such private companies, including government and nonprofits, are too lazy to do effective and consistent outreach and internship programs outside of their bubble. Also, organizations need to understand that students are far more savvy in knowing if a company if concern about hiring and not using them as trophy pieces for PR purposes. If the issue is that there is a lack of work-ready college students, then organizations should take the initiative to team up with colleges, universities and trade schools and provide blended teaching that combines book knowledge with street skills. By doing so, the students are groomed and ready for the workforce. For the organizations, they are doing the outreach and collaborative effort needed to be exposed to a diverse workforce.

  • I have been searching for candidates for techinal jobs and I get very few if any from Black or Latino graduates. I would love to have all groups in the pool to choose from but I don’t receive resumes from these groups 95% of the candidates I receive resumes from are from India not from universities in the United States

    • Luke Visconti

      If your job is to pick the best out there and you’re not receiving resumes from some groups, then you are going to fail. Now, is it your responsibility to go get those resumes so you can do a good job, or is it their responsibility? They’re going to go to where they think they’re going to be best treated. Apparently, that doesn’t include where you work. Whose fault is that? Who’s responsible for fixing it? What your organization is looking for is BAD affirmative action—you want something you don’t deserve. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

      • It is my job as a manager to bring this up to my HR department when I do they tell me that these are the only resumes that they are finding. My company is very diverse excpet for in the IT department and it is not becasue managers are turning these candidates away it is that we are not seeing any candidates in these groups. Your response is extremely hostile and very much unappreciated.

        • Luke Visconti

          The truth hurts sometimes. We know it’s the truth because you didn’t address my basic premise. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

          • As a Latino myself I take total offense to your tone and your attitude. At this point I will discontinue both this conversation and any further reading of your magazine or articles. You have a very closed mind and are unwilling to see what is really happening in the world. It is hard to believe that someone at your level is so closed minded and unwilling to see that there are people out there that are trying to do the right thing but have road blocks in place that they can’t always get around.

          • Luke Visconti

            I’ve seen things that were impossible happen when the CEO puts his/her foot in it. Sorry you don’t work for competitive people. Tech companies, with their astounding market caps, don’t skimp on anything important to them. Have a nice day. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

  • The problem is tech companies only want to recruit from Ivy league schools who
    Have low Black and Latino numbers. They won’t look at other schools that have higher percentages of those students. The misconception is top talent is only at top schools but everyone can’t afford an ivy league education nor do they all want one.

    • Luke Visconti

      That’s not quite true. Regardless, they don’t even recruit the same percentages of women and/or minorities the top schools graduate. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

    • OK, here’s your first problem. You’re assuming the Ivies don’t have any minorities, or that the Ivies’ minority pool also all comes from Asia? Try Yale, it’s just about HALF “minority” these days.

  • Hi Luke, I’ve loved your commitment to inclusion since the night I heard you speak at the USBLN conference! Thank you for trying to help the underrepresented and historically disadvantaged. I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know!

  • Sorry, but these arguments are pure nonsense. All you have to do to explain the problem is take into account things that actually get you somewhere in the job world, such as…

    – Class rank: minorities finish much Lower on average

    – IQ: blacks have a 1SD deficit to whites in measurable IQ. I don’t care about the cause, companies have to deal with the reality.

    – SAT: due to AA the average SAT difference (which correlates highly with IQ and therefore general intelligence) at Stanford has shown a huge gap in past comparisons between minority and white students.

    Yes they may make up 9% of total CS graduates, but you’re forgetting to take quality of the average graduate in each group into account. One thing is true of all major tech companies: they strive to hire brilliant employees, not whoever has a degree and the right skin color.

    • You’re quoting racist claptrap from Buchanan and Charles Murray.

      Before you expose your racist ignorance any further, I suggest you do some reading and research. Start with the college board and what the SATs really measure.

  • If you don’t believe that IQ tests actually do measure a real capacity that enhances performance in technology jobs, then we are going to have to just agree to disagree here.

    It’s not actually racist, nor ignorant, to point out the fact that there is a huge proven black-white IQ gap. From there it’s just simple logic:

    1. Proven IQ gap favoring whites
    2. Technical jobs where high IQ is especially meaningful to performance.
    Conclusion: low diversity will persist until either we fix the issues causing low black IQ(which shows up at age 3) or we do away with hiring for high performance.

  • Luke: you’re not following.

    I’m not saying that black people are genetically less intelligent.

    I’m saying they are measurably less intelligent.

    From a hiring company’s perspective, I favor hiring intelligent people if all else is equal. It doesn’t matter to me whether the lack of inherent problem solving capacity and abstract reasoning ability is genetic or not, just that it’s present.

    And I voted Clinton.

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