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Diversity STEMs from Youth

Thu, Dec. 15, 2016 | By: Israel Gutierrez

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At Tremor Video we’re dedicated to amplifying the community by celebrating and fortifying diversity through inclusive programming. I’m a co-chair of Tremor Video’s Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee where we are deeply focused on strengthening initiatives around women and minorities in tech, cultivating conversations on bias in the workplace with solutions to counteract, and the impact volunteerism plays in our day-to-day.

I recently spoke on a panel called “InclusionNYC: Tech, Mentorship, Inclusion,” hosted by Inclusion Chats, along with community partners from women and minority groups in tech (Girls Who Code, Codigo, ScriptEd, and CI, to name a few). The conversation was geared toward empowering students in the Tech and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) space. The major takeaway: START YOUNG.

You just have to keep aiming for your dreams…,” Jazmin declared. A sophomore at Queens Vocational and Technical High School in Queens, NY, she maturely expressed interest in how systems are built, and in the way ideas take shape and are created. But her elders and role models perhaps want something different for her. Jazmin’s interest in this creative approach coupled with an early exposure to coding could produce an outcome that enables her to still go after her dreams, while also causing the ripple effect of change needed in our tech industry.

Like Jazmin, most individuals are raised in a systematic developmental process based on the community in which they live. The culture in each of our communities tends to also influence that process with the intention to want the best for us, even at an early age. But what happens when said youth is exposed to something else that rattles tradition? Opportunity for change becomes possible.

As technology rapidly advances to meet the demands of our culture, it is the decision makers at top tech firms who will help shape the next era of technology. With almost 60% of Fortune 500 company CEOs represented as Caucasian Men (over 6’0 feet tall), these are our current decision makers. The goal of introducing the language of coding at a young age is to begin the diversification process early on, and what will follow will be a hopeful chronology of events:

a child is exposed to a coding language (such as math is introduced in elementary)

a child develops skills in said language

a child combines her particular interest (“I want to be a firefighter/astronaut/teacher when I grow up”) with the language of coding

a young adult enters college with a passion in mind and the knowledge of computer science

an adult begins to self-innovate or enters into a company

a diverse decision maker emerges

Implementing the language of coding (such as mathematics as a mandated curriculum) at an early age targets the issue at the literal root and can generate the results we seek in the tech landscape. A pipe dream, one might say. But when compared to the current state of diversity in tech, it’s a dream we as inclusive thought leaders should consider. A recent report by consulting firm Accenture showed women alone could miss out on $299 billion in income by 2025 if diversity hiring measures are not scaled.  Concurrently, the American Institute for Economic Research found that ethnic minorities in tech positions earn less than their Caucasian peers in similar roles. While diversity reports from tech firms do offer transparency, a 1% annual increase in diversity hiring should not necessarily be celebrated, especially due to the disparity in pay gaps mentioned above.

Introducing the language of coding and its power to create impact at an early age will help shape the future of technology, and most importantly, how our diverse communities communicate. 

 

Topics: Perspectives

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