How the Asians Became White

Eugene Volokh, Washington Post, May 29, 2014

The New York Times Bits blog reports:

Google on Wednesday released statistics on the makeup of its work force, providing numbers that offer a stark glance at how Silicon Valley remains a white man’s world.

But wait–just a few paragraphs down, the post notes that non-Hispanic whites are 61 percent of the Google work force, slightly below the national average. (That average, according to 2006-10 numbers, is 67 percent.) Google is thus less white than the typical American company. White men are probably slightly overrepresented; assuming that the 30 percent number it gives for women Google employees worldwide carries over to the U.S. (the article gives no separate number for U.S. women Google employees), white men are 42 percent of the Google work force, and 35 percent of the U.S. work force–not a vast disparity. Indeed, if the goal is “reflecting the demographics of the country” as to race –

Google’s disclosures come amid an escalating debate over the lack of diversity in the tech industry. Although tech is a key driver of the economy and makes products that many Americans use everyday, it does not come close to reflecting the demographics of the country–in terms of sex, age or race.

– Google can only accomplish that by firing well over three-quarters of its Asian employees, and replacing them with blacks and Hispanics (and a few whites, to bring white numbers up from 61 percent to 67 percent).

Of course, it would be appalling for Google to fire Asians in order to have some sort of demographic match-up with the country, or even stop hiring Asians or hire fewer Asians for that reason. I think it would be equally appalling for it to fire, stop hiring, or hire fewer whites as well. My point is simply that, if one thinks that the problem is lack of “reflecti[on of] the demographics of the country,” “white[s]” aren’t the problem.

{snip}

[Editor’s Note: Robert VerBruggen writes that “A randomly selected Google employee is five times as likely as a randomly selected American to be Asian–but (as pointed out to me on Twitter last week) you don’t really hear all that much about Asians in discussions of the new report.”]

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