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Why Silicon Valley Really Wants More Diversity

Apple shareholders last week overwhelmingly rejected [1] a proposal [2] to tie executive compensation to racial diversity targets. The news is being reported against the backdrop of a now-familiar storyline: a “reluctant” tech industry continues to “ignore” its “diversity problem.” Yet the Apple vote is actually a sideshow in a more overarching Silicon Valley trend. Far from being a vestige of discrimination, the high-tech industry, lured by government contracts, is, by and large, actively pursuing Washington’s diversity agenda.

Silicon Valley’s resurgence since the collapse of the dot-com bubble in 2001 has coincided with a growing national consensus on affirmative action. Since the election of George W. Bush in 2000, the Republican Party has largely ceded the workplace discrimination debate. Noteworthy is the GOP’s about-face on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — a federal body that since 1965 has been charged with enforcing employment discrimination laws. In a shift from the Reagan administration [3], President Bush approved eight straight years of EEOC budget increases [4] and appointed EEOC advocates Cari Dominguez [5] and Naomi Earp to chair the commission. In arguments before the Supreme Court, the Bush Justice Department offered what commentator Christopher Caldwell judged [6] at the time to be, “the most important substantive defense of affirmative action ever issued by a sitting president.” With “the Bush administration undercutting affirmative-action foes” and “embracing the ‘diversity’ mantra” of the left, Harry Stein wrote in a 2006 City Journal piece that the “desertion” of the Republican Party had become the most significant threat facing the anti-preferences movement.

Republican backing for the EEOC laid the groundwork for today’s diversity push in the high-tech industry. Among the more notable EEOC actions during the Bush administration was an inquiry into the financial industry’s hiring practices. Because the tech employment market, like the financial industry, has high-paying jobs with generous benefits, EEOC Commission Chair Jenny Yang cited [7] actions against the financial sector as a precedent for measures directed at Silicon Valley. In 2016, the EEOC issued a special report [8] on “Diversity in Tech,” flagging the “lack of diversity among high tech workers” as one of the country’s “central public policy concerns.”

Since the enactment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 [9]—which empowered the EEOC with litigation authority against private employers—many of the commission’s most enduring efforts to promote affirmative action have come through protracted lawsuits. In the tech sector, however, Washington is effectively achieving its diversity goals without litigation, or indeed even without conciliation [10]. In April 2016, online service platform TaskRabbit, in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus’ Tech 2020 plan [11], announced [12] that it would seek an increase in African-American representation to 13 percent within eight months. Two months later, more than thirty tech giants sent President Obama an “Inclusion Pledge” [13] to “recruit, retain, and advance diverse technology talent” as a “top management priority and business imperative.” Venture capital firms followed suit, promising the president [14] that they would adopt the “Rooney Rule”—a requirement to consider at least one underrepresented minority for each senior executive position.

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Why are tech giants so eagerly advancing the government’s diversity wish list? And why are they persisting even as industry leaders confront embarrassing press coverage [15] for retreating from their own much-celebrated “hiring goals” [16]?

Silicon Valley’s political correctness cannot be discounted as a reason. As San Francisco-based writer Anna Wiener reports [17] in the March issue of The Atlantic, with Silicon Valley abandoning the disruptive, pioneering ethos of its past, the “difference between the East and West Coasts is not fundamentally all that great.” These cultural similarities manifest themselves in the political realm. Even more so than in print media, News Corp CEO Robert Thompson recently observed [18] that the “mindset” in Silicon Valley is marked by a “deep fondness for political correctness, and a tendency to be intolerant of ideological infractions.” The Silicon Valley work force is, after all, comprised [19] disproportionately of alumni from elite coastal schools—the “standard 20 schools” as Slack’s Leslie Miley calls [16] them. Politically correct explanations for racial and gender disparities [20] in tech, like “stereotype threat” and “unconscious bias,” are largely taken for granted; never mind that the introduction of “blind” (no names and pictures) hiring processes at tech firms have, in some cases, led to drops [16] in the number of diversity candidates. Tech CEOs like Blendoor’s Stephanie Lampkin gladly blame [21] the “brogrammer culture, the hoodies, the flip-flops, the ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ type of vibe” in Silicon Valley as a “significant contribution to why a lot of women and minorities have been pushed out.” Yet biological theories about innate group differences—and the achievement gaps and diverging career choices [22] they produce between groups—are as taboo in Silicon Valley as they are in the Ivy League, where studies even questioning the supposed correlation between workplace diversity and profitability or productivity have “little chance of being published.” [23] So when Y Combinator president Sam Altman preens [24] that women’s outreach is “the right thing to do,” or Silicon Valley founder-turned-academic Vivek Wadhwa attributes [25] venture capital’s low returns to a dearth of African-Americans and Latinos, the allure of a flattering press “dying to write” [26] about minority entrepreneurs may not be the only motivation.

As the Apple vote shows, however, Silicon Valley is willing to resist social justice agitation when profits are on the line. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick may have hired former attorney general Eric Holder to conduct a review [27] on “diversity and inclusion,” but he hasn’t shied away from legal battles [28] to keep Uber drivers—over a third [29] of whom are African-American or Hispanic—near minimum wage. Just 2 percent of venture capitalists consider building a diverse team to be a “top priority” [30] and even the tech industry’s most visible affirmative action enthusiasts are unwilling to abandon Silicon Valley’s meritocratic ideal wholesale. As “diversity consultant” Y-Vonne Hutchinson recently admitted [16], efforts by advocacy groups such as Project Include [31] to promote affirmative action in Silicon Valley generate “a lot of blowback” because the tech industry is “really married to the idea of a meritocracy.” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg inspired a national discussion on “gender equality” with her recent report [32] on “Women in the Workplace,” but less noted was her opposition [33] to affirmative action for educated women. And this is to say nothing of the exasperation from male investors and founders [30], as well as a fringe but growing “neoreactionary” subculture [34] in Silicon Valley.

To a certain extent, Silicon Valley may be pursuing a defensive legal strategy. Tech firms, after all, are required to file Equal Employment Opportunity 1 (EEO-1) reports, which disclose internal demographic data to the government. Last year, the Department of Labor filed for the first time equal opportunity lawsuits against three Silicon Valley companies —Palantir, Google, and Oracle—and experts generally are noticing [35] a “tougher, more adversarial tone” among federal compliance officers toward Silicon Valley. The tech sector could increasingly be targeted under the EEOC’s new strategic enforcement plan, which emphasizes [36] diversity concerns in the “gig” economy.

Still, the overall threat of EEOC action is not especially significant. With an annual budget of less than $365 million [4], the EEOC is chronically backlogged and wont to approach cases with the skill of an “unwise gambler.” [37] In a legal environment in which labor and employment law has not kept up with the sharing economy and technology-based platforms [38], Silicon Valley is well-positioned to shape employment discrimination law through litigation. As a recent article [39] in the American Journal of Sociology shows, courts are particularly deferential to corporations in antidiscrimination cases when, like today’s tech giants, they have already implemented organizational structures indicating “rational governance and compliance with antidiscrimination laws.”

A more convincing explanation for Silicon Valley’s diversity outreach can be found in tech’s evolving relationship with Washington. Once an industry that “didn’t get—and didn’t want to get—the importance of lobbying” [40], tech has now “caught on to the traditional way of doing business” in Washington. Since 1998, big tech lobbying expenditures have jumped [41] by over 250 percent—more than double the rate at which the lobbying industry generally has increased. From less than $15 million on the eve of the Obama presidency, the top five tech firms alone—Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple—spent [42] in 2015 some $49 million on lobbyists. That’s more than twice as much as the top five banks. And direct lobbying figures hardly capture the millions tech companies pour into shadow lobbying [43] through Beltway think-tanks [44], trade associations [45], “revolving door” [46] moves, and “other, less visible forms of influence.” [47] Nor do they account for the quintupling [48] of campaign contributions from tech PACs and executives since 2000.

To what end? According to Ed Ring of the California Policy Center, a new generation of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, has realized [49] that

the government is a customer with very deep pockets, that more regulations will empower big companies and destroy emergent ones, that environmentalist mandates will force consumers to buy their products as they forge OEM relationships with manufacturers of durable goods, that the security state is a voracious consumer of high technology, and that public bureaucrats can be sold billions of dollars worth of educational hardware and software.

Consider Palantir. Politico reports [50] that after seven years of battle against “an entrenched bureaucracy and opposition from major contractors skilled in the Washington game,” Palantir recently landed $1.2 billion worth of federal contracts. Palantir’s lobbying expenditures during this period grew from $300 thousand to over $1 million, and 40 percent of the firm’s business now comes from government clients. Yet the executives at Palantir are still amateurs compared to Elon Musk, perhaps “the most prominent case of cronyism in modern history.” [51] Among other Musk feats: convincing the Treasury Department to fork over [52] more than $497 million in direct grants for solar installations.

With this much money on the line, Silicon Valley’s PC nostrums are understandable. It’s an investment—a “rational judgment,’’ as Google’s former director of public policy in Washington describes [53] it. However they might feel about “phoney [sic] PC police axe-grinding”—Musk’s words [54]—high-minded diversity statements, affirmative action hires “employed as demographic icons” [55], and charitable contributions to such EEOC favorites [8] as Black Girls Code, Hack the Hood, and Lesbians Who Tech make financial sense. Why refuse an opportunity to make a personal pitch to the president [14]—or 21 of them in Google’s case [56]? A $40 million donation to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund might be a bargain if it prevents further shakedowns by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Van Jones. [57] Rev. Jackson, let’s remember, is “at least as upset about Silicon Valley” as he is about Selma’s bloody voter crackdowns in 1965 [57].

Diversity plays have another advantage. When affirmative action fails to deliver Washington’s preferred racial and gender proportions, Silicon Valley is better positioned to turn the tables on the government. After Facebook’s 2016 diversity report revealed that the company’s extensive outreach campaign had produced no change in the percentage of black and Hispanic employees, and a mere 1 percentage point increase in the number of women, Facebook diversity head Maxine Williams shot back [58] in an official statement: “Appropriate representation in technology…will depend upon more people having the opportunity to gain necessary skills through the public education system”—a process, Williams predicted [59], that would take at least ten years. (Williams neglected to say why non-public education can’t produce tech talent.)

At least in the context of Silicon Valley, those who voted for Trump as a rejection of political correctness [60] are likely to be disappointed. Trump may not “have time for total political correctness” [61] but his positions on workplace discrimination are hardly different from Washington’s diversity lobby. Even in the midst of the Republican primaries, Trump reminded [62] the nation that he is “fine with” affirmative action and criticized [63] Justice Scalia for a critique of racial preferences that, in Trump’s sensibility, was “very tough to the African-American community.” On gender equality, Trump issued a statement [64] supporting “equal pay for equal work” and vowed to “enforce all statutes against discrimination.” Already, President Trump has enacted [65] two laws promoting female STEM recruitment by NASA and the National Science Foundation and promised more legislation to “address the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs and by those in STEM fields.” At the EEOC, Trump appointees are signaling [66] that they will retain Obama’s stringent EEO-1 compensation reporting requirements; make equal pay cases a “priority,” and maintain the commission’s commitment to systemic discrimination suits—albeit with more focus on individual cases.

With Silicon Valley increasingly profiting off Washington’s diversity agenda, stands against political correctness, like the Apple vote, may become harder to sustain.

Pratik Chougule is an executive editor at The American Conservative. Follow him on twitter @pjchougule. He can be reached via email at [email protected] Sign up for his email list here [67].

27 Comments (Open | Close)

27 Comments To "Why Silicon Valley Really Wants More Diversity"

#1 Comment By collin On March 6, 2017 @ 11:14 pm

Yawn! Lots of smoke and minor evidence of nothing in general. Anyway I thought Bannonism would start whining about the number of white people needing affirmative action.

Why do they support diversity in general? MAYBE they sell to all consumers and oversees to different nations.

#2 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 6, 2017 @ 11:19 pm

It’s all ideology now, all the time. The result is likely what’s increasingly become the case – Potemkin employees in America, with the actual creation and production taking place overseas.

#3 Comment By Lee On March 7, 2017 @ 1:25 am

Those h1b’s that help meet the diversity quota’s are really cheap.

#4 Comment By Brad G. On March 7, 2017 @ 6:19 am

“Why do they support diversity in general? MAYBE they sell to all consumers and oversees to different nations.”

Colin,
I don’t think many consumers really care about the makeup of some distant company. It is all about price and product features.

#5 Comment By Howard On March 7, 2017 @ 8:19 am

Sorry, collin, that’s just not the case. “All consumers” in “different nations” do not really care whether their computer programs are written by blacks or women or whatnot, any more than Americans care about the working conditions in the plants that assemble their iPhones and Nikes. However, the Silicon Valley crowd — like many others — likes to be perceived as being “on the right side of history”. They “make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,” if the old phrase can be adapted to the new ersatz religion.

#6 Comment By SteveM On March 7, 2017 @ 8:40 am

Re: “Consider Palantir. Politico reports that after seven years of battle against “an entrenched bureaucracy”

Palantir did not have to “battle against an entrenched bureaucracy”, it had to burrow into the bureaucracy and play by their rules.

I.e. as Pratik Chougule alludes, shovel the right money to the right Beltway hacks for influence, shovel money for message management to the Beltway “non-profit” 501c fronts including “think tanks” to mouth the scripts that Palantir writes aligned with its target market penetration objectives. And most importantly, ramp up with the revolving door bodies out of the Pentagon and the Security State agencies to grease the skids for contracts from their legacy agencies.

In other words, business as usual in DC.

Musk is the new Lockheed Martin but with panache. Good schtick. He’s hidden most of the sausage making behind the curtain.

BTW “Diversity” means only one thing for Silicon Valley – access to cheaper Asian labor. The Valley screamed bloody murder about Trump’s immigration limits of some Muslim countries. Not because it has any great love or concern for those nascent immigrants. It sure isn’t going to hire any of them. But because it sees it as the camel’s nose under the tent of broader immigration restrictions including the Valley coveted H-1B STEM slots.

As an aside, if Palantir’s primary customer is the government, it does not play in that diversity sandbox. Because its workers may often need security clearances. The larger point is that Palantir will play by whatever Beltway rules are required to get in and to make money. The corrupt and cronied-up system remains in place even with new players. Palantir is merely a new tentacle of the parasitic Giant Vampire Squid.

#7 Comment By JWJ On March 7, 2017 @ 12:10 pm

These companies are not diverse. Upper management, regardless of melatonin and/or whatever twelve genders are currently acceptable to mention, HAVE TO THINK politically alike.

Silicon valley companies are as “diverse” as a humanities department at a private university.

#8 Comment By we’re fired On March 7, 2017 @ 2:25 pm

“Why do they support diversity in general? MAYBE they sell to all consumers and oversees to different nations.”

Exactly. They are global corporations. They expect to profit from a globalized economy: the cheapest available labor, the lowest possible taxes, the largest possible market.

After “neoliberalism”, “New Labor”, “Clinton Democrats” and the rest, it should no longer be surprising that political correctness dovetails with predatory globalist capitalism as easily as it does with socialism or communism.

#9 Comment By collin On March 7, 2017 @ 3:17 pm

Brad G and Howard,

Ok in general they don’t care the make up of the workers but please take a broader view:

1) What if a tech company publicly supported Steve Bannon’s call for less Asian-American CEOs? Guess what would happen in China and Japan?
2) They have workers and sale staff in these nations. So the tech workers in the US have daily interactions with these workers. Nothing brings different cultures together like trying to sell your product. (Yes I have a little experience here although mostly Canada & Mexico.)
3) Look at the Kansas Indian Immigrant shooter story. It became bigger news in India than the US. This stuff crosses borders.

And isn’t selling products to other nations a good thing?

#10 Comment By Rosita On March 7, 2017 @ 3:43 pm

Collin may have spoken in-elegantly but the point he is trying to bring across is absolutely valid-diverse teams and organizations are smarter, more innovative and more profitable and yes; if you’re trying to sell to markets whose economic, social and cultural triggers are different from your own, makes sense to have employees who actually know what they’re talking about. This is just plain common sense and frankly doesn’t need studies from McKenzie and Harvard Business Review to corroborate this even though yes, there is a plethora of those too. And diversity doesn’t just mean black, brown and LGBT people; it means also straight, white Kansas males that bring a different perspective from San Francisco and Seattle. Again, most companies get that.

#11 Comment By Howard On March 7, 2017 @ 5:55 pm

@Rosita — “… diverse teams and organizations are smarter, more innovative and more profitable a ….” It depends what kind of diversity you’re talking about. There is a small but meaningful difference between how a physicist thinks and how a chemist thinks. They have different training, which leads them to adopt different strategies when faced with problems to be solved. Hiring two physicists — one a straight white man from Kansas and the other a Lesbian Latina from San Francisco, but with identical education and training — would not result in a diversity of strategies. The demographics don’t make a difference in the product; the training makes a difference in the product.

@collin (I’m using lowercase because you do) —
You’re really having to go to extremes to make your point, but the fact is that China does not care how many blacks are employed by Google, and running Brendan Eich out of Mozilla did nothing to improve the acceptance of Firefox in Japan. The level of commitment to diversity shown by Silicon Valley simply cannot be explained by purely economic forces. It’s a matter of keeping up appearances instead.

#12 Comment By Kyle Williams On March 7, 2017 @ 5:57 pm

This article misses the corporate/managerial goals of Silicon Valley. The IT companies must be understood within the long history of liberal corporations being intent on reshaping the world in a globalizing/liberalizing mold. The “PC” ideas of these corporations is not a quid pro quo. To think of it in these terms is to radically underestimate the overall trajectory of corporate power in the United States. In short, it’s shortsighted.

#13 Comment By Patricus On March 7, 2017 @ 7:03 pm

Wow. It never occurred to me to wonder about the races of the people who made the appliance or device I purchased. Maybe races other than mine think differently?

I see “diverse” workplaces from time to time, and less diverse ones. Haven’t noticed the superior performance of the diverse groups. I won’t elaborate. That’s a hell of a way to organize a business. Seems these diversity warriors are focusing on something other than providing the best product or service.

#14 Comment By Victory over Eurasia On March 7, 2017 @ 8:36 pm

I guess not many of the commenters here actually work for multinational corporations. I have spent my entire career, primarily in the US, in large MNCs. My current employer is >$30bn in sales and >80k employees, significant sales to government agencies. Our management is extremely diverse in race, origin, gender, orientation, and is reflective of the highly diverse pool of highly educated candidates for employment. The idea that we should hire diverse teams just to meet some sort of government regs in utter nonsense.

It should be noted also that today younger team members would be very disturbed if the organization was predominantly staffed w white males. It would indicate that there was no interest in skills and capabilities, only in issues of identity.

The world is pretty diverse, and large and knowledge-driven companies reflect this in a very direct and tangible way.

#15 Comment By Howard On March 7, 2017 @ 11:09 pm

“Haven’t noticed the superior performance of the diverse groups. I won’t elaborate. … Seems these diversity warriors are focusing on something other than providing the best product or service.”

I have noticed that, in college football at least, the teams that concentrate on politics and protesting tend not to play for championships. Michigan State comes to mind as perhaps the most prominent example; they went from [68] invited to participate in the playoff to [69] the same year they decided to stand out by [70]

#16 Comment By Quizman On March 8, 2017 @ 1:53 am

//Colin,
I don’t think many consumers really care about the makeup of some distant company. It is all about price and product features.//

I’ve worked in tech companies for over 25 years in the Bay Area. Customers do care about price and product features – as long as the customers can use it. Therein lies the rub. Accessibility – making devices usable by disabled persons – was treated as an afterthought by most product managers. The champions of accessibility rarely make the moral case for it. They always seek to place the business rationale front and center. The market for technology for disabled persons [71]. It is quite significant for travel and other industries too.

If you don’t hire disabled people to design accessibility features for your products, you will miss a large market opportunity. (Ditto with women, minorities etc). It pays back.

Up until 1984, 35% of programmers were women. [72] that explains what happened later to drop this figure by half.

#17 Comment By Quizman On March 8, 2017 @ 2:02 am

Rosita wrote; “And diversity doesn’t just mean black, brown and LGBT people; it means also straight, white Kansas males that bring a different perspective from San Francisco and Seattle”

I can’t stress this enough. My current company had to make an active investment in deciding to go to colleges outside of the usual ones to be more diverse. Hiring a minority from Stanford to fill in a diversity quota makes a company far less diverse than hiring from UT-El Paso, Howard U or LSU.

I wish tech companies were actually diverse. They care more for optical diversity than actual diversity.

Moreover, age discrimination against people older than 40 is rampant and is not even a secret. The New Republic had a [73] on the topic in 2014.

#18 Comment By Bob On March 8, 2017 @ 2:20 am

I am an engineering manager in Silicon Valley. My senior engineers includes one Chinese, one Mexican, two Indians and two caucasians, all male. I have also one non-engineer senior member who is an indian women. Everyone American, some immigrated some born here. The only reason my team is so diverse is because they were the best qualifies candidates out there. I couldn’t care what race or gender they were when I hired them as long as they made my team better. If the author had gone to any engineering school he would have known that is the direct reflection of the pool of engineering students. A lot of minorities and not too many women. Any other thought that this is some diversity goal, at least for me and everyone around me is ridiculous.

#19 Comment By Kurt Gayle On March 8, 2017 @ 9:55 am

”Silicon Valley’s resurgence since the collapse of the dot-com bubble in 2001 has coincided with a growing national consensus on affirmative action.”

“A growing national consensus”? On the contrary, in 2013 NBC News ran this headline: “NBC News/WSJ poll: Affirmative action support at historic low.”

“As the Supreme Court prepares to once again weigh in on the issue of affirmative action, a record-low number of Americans support such programs, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Just 45 percent of respondents said they believe affirmative action programs are still needed to counteract the effects of discrimination against minorities, while an equal 45 percent feel the programs have gone too far and should be ended because they unfairly discriminate against whites. The number of Americans supporting affirmative action has been in decline over the past two decades, down from a high of 61 percent in its favor in 1991.”

[74]

I suggest that Mr. Chougule may have fallen victim to what might be called “affirmative-action affirmative-action-polling.” Writing in the New York Times in 2014 Allison Kopicki reported:

“Polling about affirmative action and racial issues is inherently difficult, and responses differ rather widely based on question wording. As a result, both sides in the debate are able to promote poll numbers that suggest a majority of Americans agrees with them…Using the phrases “special preferences” or “preferential treatment” in a question tends to reduce support for affirmative action. Americans want life to be fair: They generally don’t mind assisting groups that need help, but they don’t like the idea of that help coming at the expense of others. A 2007 Pew Research Center survey, for instance, found that when the question included the word “help,” 60 percent of Americans favored affirmative action; in a question that used the word “preferences,” support fell by 14 percentage points… opposition can sometimes get in the neighborhood of 60 percent when “preferences” is used in the phrasing for a specific group…”

[75]

There is hardly “a growing national consensus on affirmative action.” It is far more likely that an increasing percentage of Americans oppose affirmative action.

#20 Comment By Deserttrek On March 8, 2017 @ 10:19 am

diversity means to divide , divide and conquer. the whole idea is evil.
silicon valley lectures the USA while it does business in saudi arabia, china, and other repressive countries. that is one reason apple products and others are banned from my home

#21 Comment By shambles On March 8, 2017 @ 1:23 pm

“If the author had gone to any engineering school he would have known that is the direct reflection of the pool of engineering students. “

Yes, but that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? Without detracting from the general intellectual or engineering talents of any particular group, everyone knows that the number of Asians in US engineering schools has a hell of a lot to do with the fact that so many pay full tuition and help the universities both with their minority numbers and with the weird, distorting “international outlook” component of the university ranking systems concocted by US News, THE, QS, etc.

In other words, a lot of Americans are being locked out of American engineering schools by foreigners who then immigrate, become “Americans”, and take the jobs Americans might have gotten. It’s a vicious cycle. If I were a native born American achiever who didn’t get into a good engineering school, I’d be mad as hell about it.

Our schools pretend that they’re all about merit, but what they’re really doing is using international demand for an American education to sell admissions to the highest bidders and then pressuring the government to allow the winners of the auction to become “Americans”. Even (maybe even particularly) the better state schools do it.

#22 Comment By Rosita On March 8, 2017 @ 2:14 pm

“In other words, a lot of Americans are being locked out of American engineering schools by foreigners who then immigrate, become “Americans”, and take the jobs Americans might have gotten. It’s a vicious cycle. If I were a native born American achiever who didn’t get into a good engineering school, I’d be mad as hell about it. ”

Sorry this is a ton of garbage. Majority of these engineering schools have been inaccessible to non white students for decades; how many non-white engineers did you have at MIT in the 40s; 50s; 60s; even 70s? Most either could not compete or could not afford to be there. Decades have passed, and with that the emergence of a more diverse middle and upper middle class that have the means for their children to compete at the same level as whites, and many are over-performing. I accept that is a bitter pill to swallow for many in these parts but let’s try some intellectual honesty for once.

#23 Comment By Bob On March 9, 2017 @ 1:31 am

“Yes, but that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? Without detracting from the general intellectual or engineering talents of any particular group, everyone knows that the number of Asians in US engineering schools has a hell of a lot to do with the fact that so many pay full tuition and help the universities both with their minority numbers and with the weird, distorting “international outlook” component of the university ranking systems concocted by US News, THE, QS, etc.”

Does everyone know that? I am sorry but I disagree. My son goes to a school in Silicon valley, a private one that focuses on STEM. Majority of his classmates are East Asian or Indian. The fact is that Asians push their children towards math and science as a general rule. While in general caucasians do not find sciences as the holly grail of being successful. Therefore the higher number of engineering students and thus the higher number of engineers. I find it worrisome that there is a narrative that “Americans” are locked out of engineering schools because of immigrants. I went to engineering school and been in silicon valley industry for 35 years. I have no doubt that Shambles honesty believes that this is really the case, but I have to say in no uncertain terms, you are wrong. We should really stop looking at immigrants as boogyman and consider that many have contributed to our country.

#24 Comment By Howard On March 9, 2017 @ 2:11 pm

I am a physics professor at a mid-sized state university. There are not that many people with the combination of ability and desire to study physics, particularly at the graduate level. Specific programs at specific universities can fill up, sure, but there are more than enough openings for every qualified U.S. citizen — particularly since U.S. citizens are given preference in recruiting.

One of the main diversity issues in physics is the number of women. (Again, I see no reason to believe that women really approach physics problems differently than men, but we want to recruit everyone possible into our field.) Honestly, I don’t think it’s a real mystery why women don’t go into physics. An starting engineering job, requiring only a bachelor’s degree, pays as well as most faculty positions in physics, and to become established in physics (tenured, say) requires a 4-year bachelor’s degree, followed by a 2-year master’s degree, at leas another 2 years for a Ph.D., at least 2 years as a postdoc, then 7 years teaching. The remarkable thing is that anyone is willing to put up with all that. (The answer is that research is addictive. It’s like a drug.)

#25 Comment By Mary On July 27, 2017 @ 12:43 pm

“never mind that the introduction of “blind” (no names and pictures) hiring processes at tech firms have, in some cases, led to drops in the number of diversity candidates”…Yet biological theories about innate group differences—and the achievement gaps and diverging career choices they produce between groups—are as taboo in Silicon Valley as they are in the Ivy League…

Really? You’re really going to go there? Not even a nod to the fact that our education system is separate and unequal? A 2014 Dept of Ed study reported that 81% of Asian-American and 71% of white high school students attend schools where the full range of math and science courses are offered, compared with 43% of Black students and 33% of Latino students… A quarter of high schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students do not even offer Algebra II!

The recent surge in efforts to include computer science in the schools and other non-profit organizations like the ones you mentioned has turned the interest in careers around in a stunning way this year, with underrepresented minorities taking the Computer Science AP exam up 170% over last year. It’s not for lack of smarts or interest. When these youth have the opportunity and exposure, their natural curiosity and motivation kick in. When all you see is lack of opportunity, why even try? I’m glad to see the tide turning and good for people advocating for change.

#26 Comment By Adriana I Pena On August 6, 2017 @ 12:20 pm

I am getting tired of people who ask for Government money complaing of what Government wants them to do.

No one forces those companies to take Government money. They could stop using it, and then do whatever they please.

#27 Comment By BCZ On August 9, 2017 @ 3:07 am

Okay, so… Silicon Valley is in the middle of progressive Urban, educated California, populated by educated (even overeducated) people, with a skew towards creative and tech with a liberal arts splash…. and the theory is that pro-diversity progressive-to-the-max policy is an instrumental strategy to curry favor with the minority party (everywhere but a handful of states) rather than simply that this is what the management and management culture sincerely believes and socially reinforces selectively? Seriously?

Why aren’t other industries solidly in the D camp and other long time donors going so bonkers? Why hasn’t this reversed or at least lessened with the waxing and then waning of progressive power in D.C. Honestly, any reasonable hypothesis
That could be derived is falsified or is compatible with the far more simple and plausible theory that management in these private firms in the private market are making decisions based on their private values… you know, things conservatives supposedly laid when they (correctly) argue that people shouldn’t be forced to make wedding cakes for couples they don’t want to, or when backing some conservative social goal like hobby lobby… which is probably why the author is so keen to advance this cynical and ludicrous nonsensical theory to explain values different than race-to-the-bottom, sociopathic profit seeking that free-markets combined with neoliberal values on the right so celebrates (secretly, and to the chagrin of true conservatives like Rod Dreher)