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Too often, diversity programs and initiatives sound far too often like window dressing and tokenism, “feel good” exercises that fail to address the root of the problem, which is systemic exclusion and discrimination, but rather cause gatekeepers to feel as if they have accomplished something, and lull “diverse” people into the false notion that progress has been made.
Writing for InformationWeek, David Wagner points to the failure of efforts such as Facebook’s TechPrep diversity program—which is designed for people interested in programming and to help parents to get their children interested in tech–as proof that the tech sector must look in the mirror and change its culture. Wagner noted that 4.5 percent of all new bachelor’s degree recipients in computer science or computer engineering from top research universities were Black and 6.5 percent were Latino, according to a USA Today. Yet, only 2 percent of Silicon Valley workers are Black, and 3 percent are Latino, which means more people of color are inspired to get degrees in IT than are working in the industry. Further, women in IT are 45 percent more likely to leave the field than men.
By focusing on diversity rather than looking at the elephant in the room, we will fool ourselves into thinking that the problem is solved, when in reality no progress has been made.