06.02.16

Congressional Leaders Call for Greater Diversity in Tech

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Members of the Tri-Caucus introduced a Congressional resolution calling for greater transparency and access to computer science education for all students to ensure greater diversity in the booming tech sector.

“Every year, the booming tech sector creates thousands of good-paying American jobs but unfortunately, too many of our best and brightest, especially from communities of color, are locked out of these rewarding careers because of a lack access to the necessary computer science education. Today, we start reversing that trend with a Congressional commitment to opportunity, access and techquity for all,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a member of the education funding subcommittee. “Make no mistake, increasing access to technology education is vital to our nation’s success. As more and more 21st century jobs require significant computer skills, we must ensure that our students receive the education they need to succeed and innovate the future.”

The resolution is part of a larger Congressional push for greater diversity and inclusion within the tech sector. Last year, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) launched the CBC TECH 2020 Initiative, co-chaired by Diversity and Inclusion Task Force chairs: CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield and Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

“There are more tech jobs on the horizon than skilled graduates from U.S. universities to fill those anticipated openings.  African Americans are disproportionately underrepresented in the tech industry and we must continue to work to achieve their full representation at every level of this growing and global industry,” said Congressman G. K. Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “Congress needs to do its part in strengthening the pipeline and clearing pathways to these careers.  If we fail to act, the potential for future generations of African Americans to become tech professionals is greatly reduced.   We must ensure African Americans are afforded every opportunity to have successful careers which could better position their families for economic stability and enrich the fabric of technology companies.  I commend Rep. Barbara Lee for this resolution as a step in the right direction and call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us.”

“I am pleased to join Rep. Barbara Lee in calling upon our vibrant American technology industry to ensure that all minority communities are able to contribute to the success and growth of this vital industry. Not only as engineers or consumers, but as executives and leaders. While Asian Americans are notably present at certain levels in the industry, there seems to be a ‘bamboo ceiling’ leading to the lack of representation in senior executive positions and on company boards,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders unfortunately face even starker disparities as they are disproportionately underrepresented at all levels of the technology sector. As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I will continue to fight for better representation of all communities to help build a tech industry that reflects a 21st century America.”

“As technology jobs and opportunities continue to expand, it is imperative that our nation’s increasingly diverse population is provided greater access to science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) education starting at an early age and throughout the educational pipeline,” said Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. “STEAM fields need to improve on diversity, inclusion, and close the opportunity and achievement gaps that persist in underrepresented communities of color. I urge my colleagues in Congress to work together to pass this resolution and to strengthen investments in community colleges, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions and other Minority Serving Institutions. To remain globally competitive, the U.S. must promote racial and ethnic diversity in the tech and innovation sector and prepare students of color with the skills they need to enter, succeed, and assume leadership roles in this growing sector of the economy.”

The resolution has earned the support of several organizations dedicated to expanding access to computer science and technology education for all.

 “The Computer Science Education Coalition commends Rep. Lee for recognizing that an investment in K-12 computer science education can help to close the diversity and skills gap in the tech sector, and help to ensure our nation remains globally competitive and secure in the future,” said Katie Whelan, Executive Director of the Computer Science Education Coalition, a broad-based coalition of businesses and NGOs dedicated to expanding access to computer science education in K-12 classrooms across America.

“The tech community is committed to creating an inclusive and diverse workforce—not only because it’s the right thing to do—but because our businesses benefit from the unique experiences and perspectives that a diverse workforce brings. A career in tech is a sure path to a good-paying job and a bright future, which is why we want to make sure every student has the opportunity to pursue her or his dream of a STEM education,” said Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council. “We applaud Congresswoman Lee’s leadership on this issue and her work on this resolution; we need committed partners and a relentless drive to ensure all students have opportunity to succeed in these fields and the tech workforce is reflective of our nation.”

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Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Democrat Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity.