Chicago tech’s diversity problem starts in college

The number of Latino students earning CS degrees has climbed steadily since 2016, when just 8.9% of graduates in the state were Latino. However, the percentage of Black CS graduates is down from 4.9% in 2016. 

In 2020, Illinois colleges awarded CS degrees to just 19 Black women, according to P33 and IBHE data. 

Nationally, Black and Latino students made up 3.81% and 8.16%, respectively, of CS graduates in 2019, according to data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems Completions. 

P33, founded by Penny Pritzker and Chris Gladwin, emphasizes nurturing the tech talent pipeline because the sector is growing rapidly and provides high-paying jobs, specifically in software development and engineering roles. The median salary for software developers in 2020 topped $110,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

P33’s report is based on higher education databases and more than 100 interviews with 25 Chicago technology companies. 

With the tech sector expanding in a city as racially diverse as Chicago, P33 and others have been vocal about the need to make the industry more inclusive. Black and Latino people represent two-thirds of Chicago’s population, but just 14% of the local tech workforce, P33 reports. Nationally, Black and Latino people made up about 9% and 8%, respectively, of U.S. STEM jobs in 2019, according to a Pew Research report. 

“It’s an existential concern for us as a city,” says P33 senior vice-president Matthew Muench, the lead author of the report and a former head of workforce development under Mayors Lori Lightfoot and Rahm Emanuel. “The challenge companies have with filling roles and with building diverse teams is directly a result of the fact that we’re leaving talent on the sidelines as a city.” 

via Crain’s Chicago Business

December 1, 2021 at 06:44AM

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