Technology is all around us, and its capabilities are becoming more and more impressive.
As the tech industry continues to create and innovate new technologies, it’s important to consider the people behind the latest robots, gadgets, and computers.
The tech industry has a glaring issue: it’s not very diverse.
The answer to this problem might just lie in expanding coding education.
It’s important to diversify tech – so let’s unpack what that means, why it’s important, and what we can do about it.
What is diversity in tech?
Diversity in tech means having an inclusive tech workforce with more people that have been underrepresented in the industry, particularly women and people of color.
It means increasing opportunities to enter the tech industry as well as progress within a company.
Diversity in tech fosters heightened creativity within the tech industry as people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise contribute to building the technology of the future.
Lack of diversity in tech
According to a report by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 68.53% of “high tech” professionals are white, and 83.31% of executives in the tech industry are white. The EEOC also reported that nearly 80% of executives in the tech industry are men.
Taking a deeper look at these issues further cements the case for reimagining what the tech workforce could look like.
Gender Gap in Tech
The disparity between the percentage of men and women in tech is concerning.
Google’s 2023 Diversity Annual Report showed that 25.3% of its global tech workforce are women.
While this is an improvement from Google’s first Diversity Annual report in 2014, where women were only 16.7% of its global tech workforce, it’s clear that much work still needs to be done to close the gender gap within the tech industry.
Racial Diversity in Tech
According to a 2021 Pew Research Center report, only 8% of people in computer jobs were Hispanic, and only 7% were Black.
Empowering people of color in tech and encouraging students from these underrepresented backgrounds to pursue a tech career is essential to driving innovation and creativity in tech companies.
The lack of diversity in the tech industry is a problem because it limits the creative power of tech companies and indicates a lack of inclusivity within the industry.
The impact of diversity in tech
Diversifying tech has many far-reaching benefits. Increasing diversity and inclusion in the tech industry can help companies reach new levels of innovation.
Diversity Fosters creativity
For an industry constantly pioneering what the world will look like, it’s essential that the people working to bring forth the future can imagine a wide range of possibilities.
A diverse workforce can help generate creative new ideas and insights that propel a company or product to the next level.
Improves Business Outcomes
Prioritizing diversity and inclusion in company leadership is also a good business decision.
Diverse leadership improves employee engagement and retention, and a 2019 report by McKinsey & Company found that companies with high diversity in leadership outperformed companies with low diversity in leadership in the likelihood of above-average profitability.
The positive business outcomes stemming from a diverse workforce make expanding diversity in the tech industry a winning choice.
New Perspectives Help Solve Problems
A diverse workforce can also help fix and prevent different problems.
Consider the issue of algorithmic bias, which is when AI programs make biased decisions or judgments based on the data set they were trained on.
Having more women and people of color in tech would bring in employees who are potentially more aware of biases when working with AI models and help fix them.
Their experiences and expertise can also save the company money because problems like this can be taken into account at the beginning of a project.
Diversifying tech is a smart business decision leading to a more creative and engaged workforce that can generate new ideas and solutions. Being more inclusive of people from all walks of life can only positively impact the tech industry and the future of our technology.
How to diversify tech through coding
To increase diversity in tech, it’s essential to make learning how to code accessible to everyone.
Coding is the key to navigating the world of computers and technology and learning to code will benefit all who learn it, especially women and people of color.
It is a skill that anyone can learn and doesn’t require specialized knowledge or equipment.
Coding is the language of computers, and like learning human languages, students can learn it at an early age.
Making coding accessible to all students prepares the next generation for the 21st-century world, where technology is rapidly changing.
Increasing the likelihood of students pursuing tech
At the high school level, Collegeboard reported that the chances of girls choosing a computer science major increased more than five times when they took AP Computer Science Principles compared to girls who did not take the course.
Similarly, Black and Hispanic students who took AP Computer Science Principles had more than a 2–3 times higher likelihood of selecting computer science as their major than those who did not participate in the course.
Certainly, making learning how to code accessible to more students can diversify tech since more students from historically underrepresented backgrounds pursue computer science when introduced to it earlier on.
Teaching even younger students could potentially have more significant effects of this sort and increase the number of women and people of color entering the tech industry.
Coding Education Can Reshape Tech
Coding is a high-value skill in many industries and companies, and the more students that can begin building their foundations of technological aptitude, the more diverse the tech industry can become.
Making coding accessible to all students can inspire women and people of color to pursue a career in technology as well as give them a valuable skill set that is attractive to employers across many industries.
Increasing access to coding education can help diversify tech by setting up students from underrepresented backgrounds with valuable skills that could lead to a tech career.
Coding is a social equalizer
Jobs that require coding, such as software engineering, can come with higher salaries.
A report published by market research firm Burning Glass Technologies found that jobs that needed coding skills paid an average of $22,000 more annually than jobs that did not.
Learning to code is not only a useful skill – it is a lucrative one.
Coding is a social equalizer because it allows people to move up socioeconomic ranks and change the trajectory of future generations of their families.
For historically underrepresented groups in the tech industry like women and people of color, the effects of learning to code can be profound, as they’ve gained access to a high-paying field.
Even without entering the tech industry, coding is a valuable skill that can lead to higher incomes in other industries.
Diversifying tech drives the future
Diversifying tech leads to better outcomes for individuals and companies.
Making coding accessible to all students helps forge a path for more women and people of color to enter the tech industry.
As people who inspire the next generation, it’s important to introduce kids to coding at an early age and help them learn to creatively solve the problems of the future.
Bousquette, Isabelle. "Rise of AI Puts Spotlight on Bias in Algorithms." The Wall Street Journal, 9 March 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/rise-of-ai-puts-spotlight-on-bias-in-algorithms-26ee6cc9.
"Google Diversity Annual Report." Google, p. 68, https://about.google/belonging/diversity-annual-report/2023/.
Martin, Jean. "Keeping diversity and inclusion at the top of the agenda." Changeboard, 7 December 2015, https://www.changeboard.com/article-details/15981/keeping-diversity-and-inclusion-at-the-top-of-the-agenda/.
Risen, Tom. "Coding Isn't Just For Coders Anymore." U.S. News & World Report, 8 June 2016, https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-06-08/coding-isnt-just-for-coders-anymore.
"What Is Coding? 5 Key Advantages of Learning How to Code." Berkeley Extension, https://bootcamp.berkeley.edu/blog/what-is-coding-key-advantages/.
Wyatt, Jeff, et al. "AP Computer Science Principles and the STEM and Computer Science Pipelines." Collegeboard, December 2020, p. 9, https://research.collegeboard.org/reports/ap-academic-prep.