It’s a conversation that has been playing out in tech for years, with many women of color and the underrepresented in tech saying they see the same kinds of things when it comes to representation.
A survey of women and people of color in tech published by the New York Times in April 2017 found that nearly one in five women in Silicon Valley said they have not seen or heard from anyone of color or gender in their tech community in the last year, a significant jump from just 7% of the general tech population.
The survey, which was done by a company called Engage, was a followup to a previous study conducted by the same company, and it found that while many tech employees are white, they still see diversity in tech and the industry as a major problem.
In fact, only 15% of tech employees said that they had seen people of any other race or ethnicity at work in the past year, and just 5% said they felt as if they were being supported by their employers.
“The tech community and industry are very inclusive of diverse people and cultures, but the diversity that exists in technology, and particularly in the tech industry, is often invisible,” wrote lead author Emily E. Kline.
“We were interested in whether the tech community was seeing a disproportionate number of people of all races and ethnicities in tech, and if this perception was affecting how people of different races and backgrounds were perceived.”
The New York tech community has struggled with diversity in its ranks for decades, and the tech and tech-related companies of the Silicon Valley region have been at the forefront of efforts to combat the issue.
In 2015, the Valley began a new diversity training program, which included a focus on creating a more diverse workforce, but that program has been met with criticism for not including a number of women.
In a recent profile in The New York Post, founder and CEO of Twitter Dan Savage said that women were not included in the program because it was “a white male-dominated, male-driven program.”
But Erika Andiola, a professor of media and digital studies at Northwestern University and the author of “The End of Representation: The Decline of Representational Bias in Media” told Business Insider that the lack of diversity in technology was not an issue of a lack in women, but rather a problem of what she describes as the “hyper-diversity of technology.”
“This is an issue with technology and technology companies,” Andiola told Business Insiders.
“They are more likely to have white, male founders.
So, in terms of representation in tech companies, it is the white male founders who are the problem.
And this is why diversity and inclusion are a problem.”
Andiola also said that the diversity gap in tech can also be attributed to the “crisis of white males,” who have been blamed for a rise in white male suicide, and who are also the primary reason that women are underrepresented at tech companies.
“There is a very powerful narrative that white males are the root of all the problems in the world,” Andiol said.
“And this is a narrative that is not really grounded in fact.”
Tech companies and media companies have been criticized for having a difficult time hiring more diverse employees, and Foriola said that a number have been trying to hire more women in recent years, but they have struggled to do so because of a “cultural problem” in tech.
“We have a culture where you hire people who are not white and male, but white and female, and that’s the problem,” she said.
“I think we have to change that cultural gap and make it more palatable to hire people of diverse backgrounds and to hire women.
We have to do that because women are being systematically underrepresented.”
The question of how representation in the media industry will change in the years to come has been a contentious one for years.
For starters, there are no official statistics on the percentage of female or minority tech employees, so Foriola and her colleagues are working to get those numbers.
And she says that she believes that there is an even greater gap when it came to representation of people in tech from underrepresented groups, like people of colour.
“When we talk about representation in terms for women in the industry, that’s about 85% of female and minority employees, which means that the representation is a lot more skewed towards women than men,” she explained.
For more on women in technology and diversity in the field, watch: