Students in a classroom
Representational image AFP

A new report by the Kapor Foundation reveals that the underrepresentation of Latinos in the tech industry begins long before they enter the labor market.

The study, titled "State of Diversity: The Latine Tech Ecosystem," takes a deep dive on all instances that comprise the industry, starting at K-12 and all the way into the professional world.

Looking at the first steps of the process, the report shows Latino students already face disparities when it comes to accessing opportunities that will position them to vie for these jobs, among the most lucrative in the labor world with a median salary above $100,000.

Addressing the disparities is key, the study claims, as "in the six states home to two-thirds of the total Latino population (California, Texas, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Illinois), 40% of the" Latino workforce is "at risk of being displaced by tech automation."

Considering this context, the report describes the current scenario in the tech world and gives a set of policy advices to start addressing this.

Describing educational disparities, the report shows that 78% of Latino students have access to foundational computer science (CS) courses in their high schools, compared to 82% of White students and 89% of Asian students.

Moreover, Latino students comprise 29% of the high school population but 21% of students in CS courses, "20% of students in AP CS Principles, and 12% of students in AP CS A." "Just 45% of Latino boys and 38% of Latina girls passed the AP CS P exam," the report added.

Moving on to postsecondary studies, disparities continue. Latinos comprise "just 13% of bachelor's degrees conferred in computing disciplines, despite comprising 17% of the bachelor's degrees conferred across all majors."

One way in which representation could improve is through two-year institutions, which serve 45% of Latinos in postsecondary education and "are responsible for almost one-third of all computing degrees" given to the demographic.

Considering this, the report suggests expanding CS education across grades K-12 by "integrating CS across subjects, mandating foundational courses and access to advanced CS courses, prioritizing CS as a graduation requirement, and providing funding to do so."

Hiring more Latino teachers into the CS workforce would also be key, the study adds. It also mentions the benefits of incentivizing districts to implement "culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy and curricula in classrooms."

The study highlights that these institutions can be a "promising entry point to computing degrees," but emphasizes the need for "intentional strategies to be employed" to ensure Latino students are "recruited and retained in computing."

Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) also play a key role in the path, as they only represent 16% of all higher education institutions but serve 57% of all Latino students. "8. In 2022 alone, HSIs were responsible for conferring over half (53%) of CS associate's degrees and 40% of CS bachelor's degrees earned."

Tech bootcamps are mentioned as a necessary asset as the "automation of job functions will require rapidly upskilling and reskilling displaced workers to mitigate the widening of economic inequality," especially as a large portion of the Latino population is at risk of being replaced by automation.

But despite the growing importance of these "alternative pathways" which can "expedite the process of gaining skills and credentials," Latino talent only represents "8% of bootcamp participants" even if they comprise 13% of bachelor degrees.

Apprenticeships can be another path to "bridge the cap to build competencies in the talent pipeline," according to the study. And there, figures are brighter. "Currently, 16% of registered tech apprenticeship roles are held by Latino workers, which is a 133% increase between 2018 and 2023.

This trend in representation highlights the promise of apprenticeship models," reads a passage of the report, which, however, warns that the recent set of layoffs in the sector can have a detrimental impact on the model.

In its call to action for postsecondary programs, the report highlights the need to:

  • Modernize community college infrastructure to expand CS educational pathways
  • Cultivate partnerships between postsecondary institutions serving high numbers of Latino students
  • Invest in new models for upskilling, reskilling, and hiring

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.