Google ‘Embeds’ Engineers at HBCUs to Boost Diversity in Tech

The tech giant takes on Silicon Valley's diversity problem

(Image: File)
(Image: File)

Silicon Valley is setting up shop at some of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

[Related: Diversifying the Field of Engineering]

The Associated Press reports the tech giant is “embedding” some of its engineers at a number of schools in an effort to combat the lack of diversity in tech, including Howard in Washington, D.C.; Hampton University in Hampton, Va.,: Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.; and Spelman and Morehouse in Atlanta.

The “Google in Residence” teachers not only educate about computer science, they mentor and advise the future crop of tech workers on things such as curriculum.

According to the AP, 35% of African Americans who earn computer science degrees graduate from an HBCU, but a very slim number of those make their way out West. Google’s technical staffers are 2% black, according to the report, a figure that is common among the region’s tech firms.

The move comes a year after Jesse Jackson encouraged dozens of Silicon Valley firms to release their workforce diversity data. The numbers showed an under-representation of blacks, Latinos and women.

Since then, initiatives launched by businesses, universities and community leaders have cropped up, including The Anita Borg Institute and the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s partnerships with companies to increase the number of women, and the “Facebook University” internship for low-income minority college freshmen interested in computer science, according to the report.

In addition, Intel plans to commit $300 million over the next five years toward diversifying its workforce, and Apple has a $50 million partnership with nonprofits to support women and minority computer science majors, the report adds.

Students will have the opportunity to participate in internships offered by Google, which has in the past offered free coding classes for women and minorities. And popularity of the computer science courses is growing. Introductory class sizes have doubled and nearly 250 classes have been taught so far this year by Google engineers at the five participating schools, the AP reports.