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AI4US is on a mission to close the race & gender gap in Artificial Intelligence and to change the image of what an A.I. Technologist looks like and does
We are building the largest pipeline of future Black Women AI practitioners in the United States.
AI4US is on
a mission to close the race & gender gap in Artificial Intelligence and to change the image of what an A.I. Technologist looks like and does
D I S C O V E R
The Future of Work
in Black America
Some African Americans might need to develop new skills in addition to obtaining a college degree or similar educational requirement. For example, many occupations with the greatest net-job-growth potential for African Americans by 2030 are in the tech sector. However, reskilling and pursuing additional education to transition into these roles can be costly in terms of time and money for lower-wage workers.
Capability-based solutions involve a mix of reskilling and education.
Job-displacement intervention matrix
The public and private sectors will need to implement targeted programs to increase the awareness of automation risk among African American workers. Additionally, both sectors will need to provide African Americans with opportunities for higher education and the ability to transition into higher-paying roles and occupations.
P L A Y
Women in Computing Today
Tech companies of all sizes recognize that their workforce continues to draw mainly from a small segment of the talent pool—predominantly white and Asian men from elite educational institutions. Drawing from a narrow talent pool leaves money, innovative ideas, and star employees on the table. While men of color are also excluded from tech, they participate at almost three times the rate of women of color.
And things are getting worse, not better: the share of Black, Latina, and Native American women receiving computing degrees has dropped by 40 percent over the past decade, to 4 percent, from 7 percent (Exhibit 3). If this trend continues, the number of underrepresented women of color receiving computing degrees will not double over today’s numbers until 2052—by which time they will represent a vanishingly small proportion of all graduates.
According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute discussion paper, demand for advanced IT and programming skills will grow by as much as 90 percent over the next 15 years. Business leaders across sectors are already reporting an expected tech skills shortage in their companies within the next three years. To stay ahead, the tech sector needs to expand its talent pool rapidly by investing in and attracting historically underutilized talent.
Current philanthropic and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts to increase the gender diversity of the tech sector are falling short
A survey of 32 leading tech companies representing nearly $500 billion in revenues and slightly more than $500 million in philanthropic giving was conducted in 2017. Although companies express a strong desire to reach underrepresented women of color, less than 0.1 percent (or $335,000) of the 32 tech companies’ 2017 philanthropic giving focused on reaching them specifically. Many companies sponsor programs to reach underrepresented minority communities generally rather than doubling down on removing barriers for women of color in particular.
Later on-ramps are effective.
Current investments focus on middle and high school students, though later on-ramps are effective at involving more women and girls. Tech companies concentrate 66 percent of their philanthropic funding on K–12 programs, compared to 3 percent on college-level programs (Exhibit 4). Although many invest in recruiting efforts in late college, few invest philanthropically earlier in higher education to build the cohort from which they will ultimately recruit, pointing to a missed chance for tech companies to influence the pipeline in the short term.
Closing the race & gender tech gap through Philanthropy and CSR
Solve for those facing the most barriers—underrepresented women and girls of color
Focusing on the experiences of those who face the greatest number of barriers will spur solutions that ultimately improve the inclusivity of the tech sector for all underrepresented groups.
It is never too late; consider multiple on-ramps
Girls and women can begin their journey into tech at many different points in their lives. Because girls are less likely than boys to have exposure to computing as children, later on-ramps—such as those during higher education—offer high-impact opportunities to make up lost ground by involving women and girls who have minimal previous exposure.
Connect programs to each other
Companies can encourage the programs they support to connect with one another and transition young women & men smoothly from one experience to the next—and invest to fill any gaps in program offerings. Developing this “connective tissue” increases the likelihood that the experiences in which a company invests will ultimately lead men and women to enter the sector.
Companies can drive knowledge development by funding organizations and grantees to collect data against a consistent set of metrics.
Deliver eight critical building blocks for success
Offer on-ramps for beginners.
Create a sense of belonging.
Build his/her confidence in his/her abilities.
Cultivate a community of supportive peers.
Ensure adult gatekeepers (family, teachers, counselors) are encouraging and inclusive.
Foster interest in computing careers.
Create continuity between computing experiences.
Provide access to technology and computing experiences.
About the author(s)
Michael Conway is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Philadelphia office, Kweilin Ellingrud is a senior partner in the Minneapolis office, and Tracy Nowski is an associate partner in the Washington, DC, office. Renee Wittemyer is the senior lead for women and tech innovation at Pivotal Ventures.