Meanwhile, female Asian techies have it the worst when it comes to being promoted
Silicon Valley has a bamboo ceiling.
California’s tech industry has been under intense scrutiny lately, with leading venture capitalists and startups with billion dollar-plus valuations being rocked with claims of sexual harassment and workplace misogyny and assertions that its laissez-faire approach to regulation enabled foreign political interference. Adding fuel to the fire is a new report from Ascend, a group of Asian-American business professionals, which confirms the challenges facing every non-white IT worker in the Bay Area.
For its latest study, titled “The Illusion of Asian Success,” Ascend analyzed publicly available Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data on the employment practices of Silicon Valley tech firms between 2007 and 2015. This involved studying how nearly 185,000 employees and 64,000-plus managers at companies ranging from Apple and Facebook to Intel and Cisco were deployed. It found that for all the talk of California being the future of a mestizo America, its most famous firms remain dominated by white professionals.
Indeed, people of Hispanic origin made up just 4.8% of the professional workforce at Bay Area manufacturing and information technology companies in 2015, down from 5.2% in 2007. African-American representation also declined in that same period, from 2.5% to 1.9%.
Thanks to the prominent success by the likes of Yahoo’s Jerry Yang, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Google’s Sundar Pichai, Silicon Valley has a reputation of being welcoming to Asian-American professionals. Indeed, Asians comprised 47.3% of the Bay Area tech professional workforce in 2015—the largest plurality and an increase from 44.4% ten years ago.
But while Asians find it easier to get their foot in the door, they face the biggest obstacles climbing into the managerial ranks. In fact, they were disproportionately unlikely to become executives, with only 25.2% of tech managers being of Asian origin. Though whites are now the second highest represented group among tech professionals behind Asians, they still occupied nearly 69% of executive posts in 2015. “Despite being outnumbered by Asian men and women in the entry-level professional workforce, white men and women were twice as likely as Asians to become executives and held almost 3x the number of executive jobs,” the study’s authors wrote.
Silicon Valley is a wonderful place for white managers and not that great for everyone else https://t.co/gOSOXlDYLu
— Moneyish (@Moneyish) October 3, 2017
If anything, Asian women face the most solid glass ceiling when it comes to career advancement. The report found that they were the least represented as executives– 66% below what their proportions in lower ranks would suggest they should be. In comparison, the proportion of white women executives significantly exceeded their representation as professionals.
The statistics suggest much work needs to be done if Silicon Valley wants to become the mecca of meritocracy it imagines itself as—and indeed, sometimes is. Given how jobs in tech fields generally pay more—at least initially—the report also matters if America is serious about closing gender and race pay gaps.
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