Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Tech Industry Seeks to Reach Out to Latino Students

Last month, Google made the shocking admission that just 3 percent of its employees are Latinos. The news was particularly disheartening given that the tech company is headquartered in California, the state with the nation’s largest Latino population. 

Furthermore, the company has faced criticism as its employees have moved into San Francisco’s Mission District, allegedly displacing residents through gentrification in the historically Latino neighborhood. This week, Yahoo also disclosed that only 4 percent of its employees are Latino.

Now efforts are being made to build a pipeline of diverse future tech workers. The challenge is fairly daunting. The San Francisco Bay Guardian reports that although about 25 percent of students attending the San Francisco Unified School District are Latino, few are being afforded access to high-tech coursework. 

The Guardian noted that until recently, computer science was only taught in three of the district’s 17 high schools. The problem is not unique to California. Earlier this year it was revealed that only 8 percent of the 30,000 students who took the Advanced Placement computer science exam in 2013 were Latino. 

Efforts are forming to fill in the gaps that exist in the public schools. For example, the HackReactor software engineering camp and Mission Bit, are welcoming high school students from San Francisco public schools to learn programming this summer for free. Mission Bit is a new nonprofit group offering free computer programming classes taught by volunteer tech professionals and engineers to public school students. The group’s goals include teaching more kids how to code, teaching them how to code sooner and teaching them programming skills that are complementary to their school coursework. Students are learning HTML, Javascript and other programs.

Tech Crunch also reported that the Mission Economic Development Agency started a program called Mission Techies, in which programming classes are offered to teens in the Mission District and are taught by engineers from companies like Facebook and Google.

Edwin Gonzales, 22, took part in the course and now has an internship related to technology. 

“I’m very passionate about computers,” he said. “I need to keep growing my skills.”