Why I Participated in NPR's #RaceOnTech Project

NPR_RaceOnTech_Viviana_Hurtado-TheWiseLatinaClub If you've been following my writing here on The Wise Latina Club and tweets and posts on social media, you know lately I have been focused on the lack of diversity in technology, specifically Silicon Valley. I've opened up the discussion to look at the micro and macro context, for example the impact of economic opportunity on a person, a community, the economy, and our global competitiveness. This is why when National Public Radio (NPR) asked me to join their #RaceOnTech project, I agreed.

#RaceOnTech is a multimedia examination of this issue through the lens of next generation science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) stars who are mentees to tech influencers/mentors. Click below to for the Storify wrap curated by NPR's senior producer Davar Ardalan:

This important conversation on the lack of women and techies of color in Silicon Valley and technology is an already diagnosed problem as I write in How to Change Silicon Valley's Brofest: Diversity. However, what continues to be missing are comprehensive actions that can be scaled on a national level. This means that our education system has to radically be re-imagined and re-tooled, in part because only a sliver of students are being exposed to computer skills as part of their curriculum as I write in 7 Coding Programs Targeting Diverse Students. In other words, our students must be coding years before they attend college to better prepare them to major and work in STEM fields.

We also must not leave adults behind--many the casualty of the global financial meltdown of 2008 and our slow economic recovery which has been exacerbated by the impact of technological advances and the globalization of our economy. As I write in 5 Coding Boot Camps for Adults, programs have cropped up to help adults gain the technical competency to help them transition and secure an IT job.

We know the problem. Innovative programs exist to address and rectify the issues, including a Google commitment pay women and minorities to learn how to code (disclosure: I co-founded a summer reading program for Latino children supported by Google). However, what continues to be lacking is a comprehensive solution that tackles both the immediate problem which is teaching students of all ages the technical skills required to code. As critical are the structural problems such as the quality of education, access to professional networks, mentoring, and the political will to scale smart solutions into a template for the national level, in this way solving the macro issue of economic empowerment and opportunity, as well as maintaining our tech global competitiveness.

Lack of diversity in technology and its impact can not be viewed exclusively as a human resources problem and solved in this company department. Creating parity in technology will require a coalition of stakeholders including government leaders, industries, local partners, the education sector, and the community plus the innovative thinking and practice that are the hallmarks of Silicon Valley.

May technology titans take the lead in solving this national problem by going back to the roots of this industry. Our economy, our communities, and our future are ready to be transformed.

Click here to read more posts on technology and diversity, including the role of education and politics.