It Is Time for the Edtech Industry to Stop Denying Its Equity and Race Problem
The EdTech industry is dominated by white employees, white leaders, and white entrepreneurs. If you doubt this statement, just attend an Edtech conference.
Admittedly, educators and others don’t attend Edtech conferences to discuss equity. They go to get inspired, learn from each other and discover the latest technology that can benefit their teaching and their students.
That’s all very well, but if we expect technology to transform how we teach and how students learn, it’s imperative that we integrate equity into our efforts. We need to have those awkward discussions.
But this is not the only equity problem that Edtech has. The country has serious equity issues in districts across the nation where all students don’t have the same access to the same level of education. Some students don’t flourish in their studies, not because they struggle with the work, but because of issues related to, race, gender, ethnicity, geographic region, home language or finances.
The thing is, no technology, no matter how brilliant, will make up for the inequalities some people have to go through. Some things only people can correct.
Kimberly Bryant, founder of the Oakland-based nonprofit Black Girls Code, makes the point that there are many startup founders that see an opportunity in education, but Edtech companies are not created by the people who need the technology the most.
The point is, while Edtech entrepreneurs say they want to find ways to overcome the divide between students from different geographic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, the reality is that these very companies are run by people who are on the wrong side of the divide: they are privileged in many ways including having top qualifications and being white.
The reality is also that the same faces are seen at Edtech conferences throughout the year. And many of them have never faced a class of students, marginalized or not, or collaborated closely with educators who deal with the effects of inequalities on a daily basis.
And at these Edtech conferences, the issue of racism in Edtech is not being addressed, and by not addressing the issue, the system is failing all students.
Educator and #HiddenVoicesofEdTech creator Shana White calls for a more vocal pushback.
But this should not only come from people of color in Edtech, but also from white supporters who can work to dismantle the system of white-only leadership from the inside.
“Until members of those committees/leadership groups have a change of mindset or are infused with more educators of color, this problem will remain,” she writes.
Those who plan Edtech conferences and those who work on technological solutions in education could ask themselves a few questions when they do their invitations: Whose voice is missing here? Who is not represented here? Are there any barriers to entry? Does our action exclude anyone or any group?
If they have a list of mainly white males facing them, surely the answer is obvious.