Need Some Help: Women/Minorities in Tech

I’m wondering if any of you have run across any independent statistics for what defines a minority in the technology industry?

For example, there’s been a lot of press recently about how many large tech companies have relatively few women. OK – I can wrap my head around that. Given that females are around half the population, it seems reasonable to think they’d be about half the workforce, so if the number is considerably less, that’s obviously a gender minority.

But what are the other minorities in terms of tech industry employment? What defines a minority?

[Also – I know there’s a related but distinct problem of equal treatment, but for this particular query, I mainly need to look at workforce population rather than the more complex problems of pay equality, harassment, and so on, even though those are also hugely important.]

It seems like “minority” could easily be something like, “less than 50-ish percent” when you’re talking about gender, but that’s harder for ethnicity. It’s tough to employ 50% Caucasian, 50% Asian, 50% African-descent, and 50% something else, because that’s… well, I suck at math but it seems like more than 100%, if you take my meaning. So at what level is a particular ethnicity not a minority? Is there some agreed-upon list of what ethnicities there are, so I know when I’m looking at a minority or not? I truly don’t know.

Anyway, I’ve been Binging all morning and I haven’t been able to find anything like a Department of Labor report on actual employment percentages, what constitutes a “minority,” and so on – so I’m hoping you folks can point me to something.

Just drop a comment, or tweet me @concentrateddon. Thanks in advance!

7 thoughts on “Need Some Help: Women/Minorities in Tech

    1. Don Jones

      That did indeed help in terms of getting me some terminology I needed, as well as an algorithm for expressing the situation in a bit more global-friendly way. Thank you!

  1. David Jones

    How far do you carry it. Gender, genetic background, sexual preference, religious beliefs, native language, hair color, star wars vs star trek, fraternity affiliation. At some point we are all a minority. The more we try to measure fairness the less fair it becomes. I believe if the focus is on the culture that fosters people reaching their potential regardless of background then the percentages take care of themselves

    1. Don Jones

      I think you’re perhaps reading too much into my question. I’m not asking what we should care about or whether we should do anything about it; I was looking for ways to identify what is considered an “underrepresented group,” regardless of what the group was. “Minority” was indeed a term that was a red herring, which is why I wasn’t getting anywhere in my initial research!

  2. Anjuan Simmons

    I think the term you’re looking for is “underrepresented groups”. These are groups that are represented in the tech workforce far below their representative percentage in overall society. For example, African Americans make up 13% of the US population but only 2% of technical workers in technology companies (at least the large ones).

    Regarding the comment about focusing on a culture that fosters people reaching their potential, that neither answers the question about why underrepresented groups exist nor solves the problem.

    1. Don Jones

      That is indeed the term I needed. Another comment, referring to a USA Today article, made exactly the comparison you made, and that’s giving me a much easier way to wrap my head around the concept: When a given group’s representation in an industry is markedly different than their representation in the broader labor market. I’ve been struggling in part because I was looking for globalized language, and terms like “African American” are, by definition, not global – so it was hard to find sources. Thank you!

      1. Minority Tech (@MinorityTech)

        You’re welcome! I wrote a book called “Minority Tech” about my experiences as a member of an underrepresented group in technology so I have a lot of thoughts about this subject. I am glad that you’re thinking about it.

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