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Don Burleson Blog 








US Information Technology Racism

Don Burleson

If we let raw numbers tell the story, minority under representation and racism appears to be especially prevalent in Information Technology, lurking just under the covers, hidden and well-disguised behind rigorous education requirements and institutional barriers.  I recently visited Silicon Valley, the bastion of the white Anglo Saxon computer nerd, and the higher you go in the high-tech ranks, the whiter it seems to get.

I've been a database administrator for 25 years and I've rarely met an African-American DBA and even fewer Oracle DBA's like me, with Native American ancestry.

This UCLA document High-Tech Industries in California: Panacea or Problem? notes the institutional racism with minorities in Information Systems in California:

"If we look at ethnic breakdown of employment, we see in figure 3a that Hispanics were underrepresented in the top ten high-tech industries in 1984, and the disparity grew in 1999 when only 5 percent of Hispanics were employed in high-tech industries . . .

The bad news is that the top ten high-tech industries hire fewer than 11 percent of California workers, and only 6 percent of California workers are scientists, engineers or technicians."

College Matters

This study notes that many high-tech industries require a college degree, leaving-out those minorities without the resources to pursue an advanced education at a high-quality university: 

"Furthermore high-tech industries do not create many jobs for workers with no college: only 20 percent of workers in high-tech industries have a high school degree (or less), while 50 percent of them have college and advanced degrees.

Blacks and Latinos are relatively under-represented at high-tech jobs."

But it's not just prejudice against the under-educated, the quality of the degree also acts as a barrier to entry by minorities into the high-tech Information Technology industries.  Isn't this racism?

White Colleges Preferred?

For example, most of the top software corporations note that they hire their software developers from the "top" universities, difficult challenging institutions which have notorious barriers to entry.   This eWeek article notes choices of schools for "top candidates" are often limited to schools with comparatively tiny minority enrollment percentages:

"According to the e-mail, Oracle recruits "top candidates" for product development from MIT, Stanford, CMU (likely Carnegie Mellon University), Princeton, Wisconsin, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, Caltech, Berkeley, Harvard and Cornell.

In addition, the e-mail continues, Oracle will consider "top candidates" from the University of Texas Austin, Duke, Penn, Georgia Institute of Technology (grad students) and "any top international schools," it reads."

The two-tiered University system

But it's not like large software companies like Oracle and Microsoft cannot recruit from universities with high minority enrollments, like DeVry, a university which claims to be one of the top producers of engineers in the USA. 

The numbers speak for themselves, racism is alive and well in the US Information Systems industry.

I work in a minority-owned company, and Burleson Consulting is proud of our collection of Oracle experts of many races and creeds. 


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