How to Fix EdTech’s Diversity Problem
There’s one problem in EdTech that just won’t go away—the diversity problem. Or rather, the lack of diversity. This problem has two fronts—gender and race. In fact, the tech industry as a whole is dominated by white men. According to Mashable, White people make up about 83% of tech executives. A similar number of tech executives are men.
The gender problem is less pronounced in the EdTech field, but it’s still there. Because education is a female-dominated world, there are more women in leadership roles in EdTech than the rest of the technology industry. Forbes contributor Barbara Kurshan notes that there are many examples of women taking leadership roles in EdTech companies, and the number seems to be growing.
But what about the other diversity problem, race? In that arena, EdTech falls short. Ask anyone involved in the EdTech industry, and they can tell you it’s dominated by white employees and leaders.
There are two basic approaches to this problem. Some argue that the problem is the pipeline. EdTech executives, and tech executives in general, have made the case that there simply aren’t enough qualified people of color earning degrees in technology and applying for jobs. They put the blame for EdTech’s lack of diversity on the pipeline by claiming they are stuck hiring primarily White men because those are the only qualified candidates applying.
It is true that there are fewer people of color coming through the so-called pipeline. But blaming EdTech’s diversity problem on the pipeline isn’t going to solve the problem. Kimberly Bryant, founder of the non-profit Black Girls Code, argues that the real problem is something she calls a leaky pipeline.
There are plenty of women and people of color who begin a career in EdTech, she says. But along the way, they decide it’s not for them. Figuring out why this happens, and addressing the issue, is the real key to fixing EdTech’s diversity problem.
One reason women or people of color shy away from EdTech is the culture. Because the industry has been dominated by White men for so long, it’s hard for diverse employees not to feel like outsiders. Being the only woman or the only person of color in a space is lonely and intimidating for many. By working to create a more inclusive culture that is open to all peoples’ contributions, EdTech can begin to fix its diversity problem.
Do you see a lack of diversity in EdTech? What do you think we can do to fix it?