More College-Educated Blacks Employed in Tech Than Healthcare
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

After all the talk, recently, about the lack of diversity at tech companies, it might be surprising to learn that college-educated blacks and Hispanics have benefited enormously from the tech jobs boom. A new report published by the Progressive Policy Institute titled, Tech Opportunity for Minorities and Women: A Good News, Bad News Story, found tremendous job creation in tech occupations since the economic recovery began in 2009.

From 2009 to 2014, blacks with a college degree gained slightly more tech jobs than healthcare jobs–employment rose by 79,000 in computer and mathematical occupations (a 58% increase) compared to a 76,000 gain (an 18% increase) in healthcare occupations. It turns out that tech jobs can be a source of economic opportunity and upward mobility for an increasingly diverse American population, the report found.

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“That’s because the tech/info jobs boom is much broader than in Silicon Valley. Tech jobs are increasingly found across all industries and the country. Tech jobs are in finance, education, and government; and urban tech clusters are forming in U.S. cities such as New Orleans, New York, and Denver,” the report reads.

While the employment gain is the good news, there is unfortunately some bad news.

America’s pre-occupancy with Silicon Valley’s intolerance is having disastrous consequences. “Universities and colleges, for example, are failing to adequately adjust to the labor market’s signals. They are pushing too many science-minded people into healthcare jobs, leaving vast numbers of high-wage tech jobs unfilled,” says the report.

In addition, women are not equally sharing in the tech jobs boom, accounting for just 26% of the college-educated tech job growth from 2009 to 2014. The report reveals that science-minded women are disproportionately choosing healthcare-related majors, such as biology and health sciences, over computer and information sciences (CIS).

“I find it troubling that in an era of great technological disruption and stratospheric growth in the communications space—where … innovative solutions for people, businesses and governments, domestically and globally, are connecting, improving and transforming lives in places previously discounted—too many of our citizens remain stuck on the wrong side of the opportunities divide,” remarked FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn at a PPI forum held with Georgetown University’s Center for Business and Public Policy, last week.

In her speech, Clyburn did not let companies like Facebook, Google and Apple off the hook, and she challenged community organizations, religious institutions, the media, and schools, as well. She asked for more involvement from local role models.

“Efforts by tech companies to expand pipelines are only part of the solution,” said Clyburn. “We can all do more. Each of us has the ability to identify, challenge, and stamp out barriers and craft common-sense solutions.”

The report made a few recommendations:

  1. Exposure and access to training for the new wave of middle-skill tech jobs must be a top national priority.
  2. Policymakers should avoid taking actions that impose impractical restrictions or regulatory constraints, which choke off tech job creation or hinder private investment.
  3. Policies that promote more CIS majors and more STEM majors, should be an integral part of higher education reform.
  4. [The tech industry must] address the long-standing cultural biases against women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.


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