How the Pathway to Engineering Affects Diversity in the Engineering Work-force: A Silicon Valley Case Study

Year
2015
Type(s)
Author(s)
Baker, Corey E and Dunnavant, J and McNair, J
Source
In ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Seattle, WA, 2015
Url
https://peer.asee.org/how-the-pathway-to-engineering-affects-diversity-in-the-engineering-workforce-a-silicon-valley-case-study.pdf

The recent release of employment data from some of the top tech companies in Silicon Valley (SV) has stirred a national debate about diversity in the industry. Currently, most of the SV companies employ underrepresented minorities (URMs) and women at a percentage that is not representative of the U.S. population or degrees awarded to engineers. However, are the percentages representative with respect to URMs and women earning engineering degrees? This paper assesses the use of population parity as an adequate benchmark for measuring diversity in industry using SV as a case study. This work suggests using a novel measure called degree parity as a more appropriate measure. Furthermore, this paper addresses some of the factors that hinder companies from reaching degree parity and offers recommendations as to how companies can improve their diversity record. Results from our analyses indicate that for women, blacks, and Hispanics/Latinos, no company has reached population parity in regards to all domestic employees. However, for women, every SV company has met degree parity when looking at the overall representation of their respective companies. For women in the technical business sectors, only two SV companies have reached degree parity. For blacks, three out of the eleven largest SV companies have reached degree parity in both their overall company representation and technical business sectors. In regards to Hispanics/Latinos, one company has reached degree parity when looking at overall representation and technical business sectors. For Asian Americans, every SV company has met and exceeded degree and population parity in regards to overall representation and technical business sectors. For Whites, only one SV company has met and exceeded degree and population parity with respect to overall representation and technical business sectors. Colleges, universities, and companies continue to work hard to increase the numbers of successful URM and women students in the pathway to engineering careers. A more thorough review of the recruitment and promotion process is needed to ensure that the culture and environment of SV companies are equipped to receive and retain a more diverse pool of graduates and impact diversity in all areas of employment.

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