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Discrimination or Self-Segregation Keeping Minorities Out Of Tech Industry?

African American startups received less than 1 percent of all venture capital investments in 2010, compared to about 87 percent going to white startups, according to a report from CB Insights. That statistic has led many to wonder why there aren't more minorities in the tech industry.

Is it because African American's tend to self-segregate, forgoing networking opportunities by staying within an ethnically-based community, as suggested by University of Connecticut professor Maya Beasley? Is it that the focus in the black community has been on confronting civil rights issues rather than economics when choosing a profession, according to one African American strategy consultant with over a decade of experience working in venture capital funding. Is it that historically black colleges don't put enough emphasis on technology education, but focus on more traditional careers?

Or is it fundamentally simpler than that? Are African Americans experiencing discrimination based on race in the tech industry? Yes, according to Mitch Kapor, founder of Kapor Capital, the tech industry has its own set of cultural biases that make it difficult for African Americans to break into the tech sector.

Slightly over 8 percent of entry-level Silicon Valley technical positions are filled by underrepresented minorities, including African American, Latino/Hispanic and Native American employees. That number shrinks to about 5.5 percent at high-level management.

Women of underrepresented minorities make up even less of the Silicon Valley tech world. Less than 2 percent of high-level tech positions are held by women of color.

A diverse workforce is often considered a key to the success of a business, allowing it to compete on a global scale by encouraging innovation and creativity through the different ideas and backgrounds that each person brings to the workplace. Based on these statistics, there is room for improvement in today's technology fields.

Source: Business Insider, "PROFESSOR: Self-Segregation Is What's Keeping African Americans Out Of Silicon Valley," Vivian Giang, March 5, 2012

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