PRESS ROOM: New Coalition Aims To Double Number Of Women In Color In Tech

By MSR News Online

A groundbreaking coalition of tech companies has joined forces to double the number of Black, Latina and Native American women graduating with computing degrees by 2025.

Twelve technology companies have teamed with Melinda Gates to form the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition which will invest $12 million in efforts to address gender diversity in tech.

The coalition was formed in response to a new report showing there are fewer women of color today earning computing degrees than there were a decade ago. The numbers weren’t great to begin with, but have since dropped from six percent to four percent, according to the report. In addition, only five percent of tech companies’ grants went to programs with an explicit focus on women and girls in tech.

“Rebooting Representation” culls insights from leading tech companies and leadership on how tech companies’ use of corporate social responsibility and philanthropic efforts can impact gender diversity, how decisions are made and concrete strategies for individual companies and the tech sector, as a whole, to close the gap.

More than 100 of the sector’s top executives and experts, along with 32 companies, were interviewed for the report co-authored by Gates’ investment and incubation company, Pivotal Ventures, and McKinsey & Company.

“The technology sector occupies a unique role in our society as one of our most powerful engines of economic growth and social mobility,” write Gates and Kevin Sneader, global managing partner, McKinsey & Company, in the report’s foreword. “Ensuring more women have pathways into this sector is both a fundamental issue of equity and a business imperative.

“The data is clear that diverse companies are more innovative and profitable. Tech companies have much to gain — and much they can contribute — by choosing to make diversity and inclusion a priority.”

The report’s findings will now inform the coalition’s work as it plans strategies over the next few years, including a focus on five high-impact opportunities:

  • Fighting stereotypes around women in computing
  • Creating more inclusive experiences of computing for girls in middle and high school
  • Redesigning the experience of college students majoring in computing
  • Creating connections among programs so women and girls move directly from one tech experience to the next
  • Building knowledge of which programs are working

The founding companies include Minnesota-based Best Buy, along with Adobe, Applied Materials, BNY Mellon, Dell, Intel, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Oath, Qualcomm and Symantec.

“It is an honor to now broaden this focus by joining the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition and, under the leadership of Melinda Gates, work to double by 2025 the number of women of color graduating with computer-science degrees,” said Hubert Joly, Best Buy chairman and chief executive officer.

Best Buy will commit $200K each year over the next three years to the coalition. The company will also expand its Teen Tech Center network which provides technical training in areas such as cyber-security, entrepreneurship, IT support and app development. The network is slated to grow from 20 to 60 centers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico by 2020.

The Reboot Representation Tech Coalition is housed at National Center for Women & Information Technology with administrative support provided by Pivotal Ventures. All investments funds from the companies will go directly to efforts that engage underrepresented women of color.

For more information about the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, visit www.rebootrepresentation.org.

—Information provided by Reboot Representation Tech Coalition

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman – Recorder.

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