Asian-Americans have made double-digit employment gains in the Bay Area's technology workforce, according to a numbers analysis of Census Bureau data by the San Jose Mercury News.
Mercury News claimed that this “dramatic shift” had come at the expense of technology jobs from white tech workers, while California's Hispanic and African-American communities also lost some ground – but not much.
Though Mercury News doesn’t seem to have taken into account population growth as part of its statistical analysis, the paper claims the numbers show that the percentage of Asian tech workers increased from 39 percent in the year 2000 to over 50 percent in 2010 for Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties combined.
Meanwhile, according to Mercury News, “white workers saw their more than 50 percent majority of tech jobs in 2000 fall to nearly 41 percent.”
The African-American tech workforce reduced from 2.8 percent to 2.3 percent, while Hispanic tech employment saw a similarly small decrease from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent.
The paper points out that Hispanics make up 27 percent of Santa Clara County, so the numbers do appear disproportionally low. Not that any good explanation is proffered by the paper.
Instead, the Mercury News article makes the case that Asian-Americans are seeing increased success thanks to an early emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, though it fails to say whether this emphasis comes from local American schools or from pushy parents.
The software field is where Mercury News claims there has been the largest demographic shift, though the numbers appear fairly in line with demographic growth. Apparently Asian-Americans made up 45 percent of software developers in 2000, and now total 53 percent in Alameda County. In San Mateo and Santa Clara, the numbers seem to show a rise from 50 percent to nearly 60 percent.
While questioning this purportedly significant demographic shift, Mercury News saw fit to note that while 34 percent of African-American and Hispanic students started out studying engineering, only 13 percent went on to leave college with engineering degrees.
The paper again blames lack of STEM education for all communities other than the Asian-American one for this seeming failure.
While that may or may not be true, the entire piece leaves a bad taste and stirs up sentiments perhaps better left well alone. After all, is the Mercury News implying it would rather the Bay Area start using affirmative action in the engineering space? And would that make things more fair? Is the Asian-American community to blame for seemingly having found a better way to channel children into science?
Statistics and numbers are certainly interesting, but put those tools in the wrong hands – say of an extreme politician or the bitter unemployed masses-- and you have a recipe for disaster. Or just plain racism.
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