Silicon Valley has long been the nation’s hub of technological innovation. It is home to tech giants like Apple, Facebook, and Google.
This Palo Alto tech base attracts ambitious entrepreneurs each year with dreams of bringing their new business ideas to the market and enjoying a slice of what has become a multi-billion dollar industry.
Smaller-scale industrial centers have also blossomed around the U.S. to compete in the tech arena as well.
Consider Silicon Valley’s southern neighbor, Silicon Beach, located along the western corridor of Los Angeles, which has gained momentum over the past few years and houses social media ventures like YouTube and SnapChat.
Over the past decade, the industry has seen remarkable growth. If the industry’s stock market performance is any indication, investors can expect that it will continue to bring in chart-topping billion-dollar growth for years to come.
Unfortunately, less than half the country shares in the economic opportunity that this industry holds.
Women who make up 50 percent of the U.S. population only comprise 25 percent of the workforce in STEM professions (science, technology, engineering and math) according to a 2013 American Community Survey report by the US Census Bureau.
A similar picture unfolds when considering racial minorities. African Americans and Latinos each represent only 6.5 percent of the tech workforce.
The tech industry’s diversity dilemma is not a secret. But is also a hairy problem to fix.
Non-profits have sprouted up to try to remedy the problem. Corporations, too, have thrown their hat into the game by creating social initiatives to diversify the tech space.
But despite the momentum behind efforts within the non-profit and corporate world to turn around this goliath issue, the problem persists.
On a national scale, the disproportionate demographic makeup of the tech sector may take years, if not decades, of concerted effort between the public, private and civil sectors to resolve.
But on a local scale, there may be hope for more immediate change.
Consider Los Angeles, which has some of the largest school districts in the country, and the efforts of two unlikely techies to change the face of the industry.
Their work begins just miles from Silicon Beach and they are making plans to bring a slice of Silicon Valley to South L.A.