Facebook Blames Its Lack of Diversity on America’s Lackluster Public Education System

Amy Graff, SFGate, July 15, 2016

Facebook blames its lack of diversity on the scarcity of quality computer science instruction in American public schools.

An annual diversity report released Thursday revealed the social media giant is still staffed with a lot of white men. The numbers indicate only 2 percent of its U.S. workforce is black and 4 percent Hispanic, and when looking at technical staff, 1 percent is black and 3 percent Hispanic. These figures have remained the same since 2014. Women make up 33 percent of the U.S. workforce; and 17 percent of technical staff.

In a blog post on the data, Maxine Williams, Facebook’s global head of diversity, said the company’s diversity problem was due to a lack of available talent and the public education system’s failure to provide computer science classes.

“It has become clear that at the most fundamental level, appropriate representation in technology or any other industry will depend upon more people having the opportunity to gain necessary skills through the public education system,” Williams wrote. “Currently, only 1 in 4 US high schools teach computer science.”

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The company, which has a history with investing in public education, promised $15 million to Code.org toward computer science education over the next five years.

“Facebook’s five-year commitment will help Code.org to drive the development of curricula, public school teacher-training and student skills-building, particularly among traditionally underrepresented populations in engineering and computer science,” Williams wrote. “It will give thousands of students across the country the access to computer science they deserve.”

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Facebook may still lack diversity, but this year’s numbers did show some promise. While current representation in U.S. senior leadership is 3 percent black, 3 percent Hispanic and 27 percent women, 9 percent of new senior leadership hires in the U.S. are black, 5 percent Hispanic and 29 percent women, Williams wrote. What’s more, Asians represent 38 percent of Facebook’s U.S. workforce and this number has increased by 2 percent each year.

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