“The pipeline problem.” That’s the catch-all phrase that keeps coming up in discussions of diversity in Silicon Valley.
Tech companies say they’d love to hire more women and minorities, but that too few qualified candidates are graduating with technical degrees. That leaves them choosing from an applicant pool that is largely white, male and Asian.
“We simply cannot get there without schools,” said Rosalind Hudnell, Intel’s (INTC, Fortune 500) chief diversity officer. “An engineering degree is probably the best you can get for finding a job, yet we don’t have enough diverse students taking an interest.”
The Computing Research Association (CRA) puts together an annual report that aims to quantify the racial and gender breakdowns of graduating classes at multiple levels.
Like any report, CRA’s has its limitations; it’s a survey of undergraduate degrees but it covers only schools that also grant Ph.Ds in computing. It also employs a narrower view of computer science than some other reports do. Still, it’s considered a valuable snapshot of the technical talent emerging from America’s universities.
According to CRA, the 2010 undergrad class was more than 66% white and nearly 15% Asian, a group which includes those of Indian descent. Hispanics accounted for 5.6% of the year’s computer and information science degrees, and blacks obtained 4.2% of them. Both of those minorities were outnumbered by non-U.S. residents, who made up 7.6% of 2010′s graduating computer scientists from American universities.
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