While we go from February into March celebrating Black History and Women’s History with stories of trials and accomplishments among disenfranchised communities, the frustrating reality is that change, especially in historically white and male dominated industries is all too slow.
Even as Big Tech continues to see record growth despite the economic impact of the global pandemic, the benefits of new opportunities are not being distributed equitably as still only about 28% of the tech labor force is represented by women, and many major tech firms report that only 5-8% of their employees are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
Some companies are starting to admit that the so-called “talent pipeline issue” could be a symptom of their own unconscious biases that impact every step of their recruitment practices. But admitting that there’s a problem is only the first step. Much more work needs to be done by both employers and educational institutions to get at the root of the systemic problems that create barriers to access and pathways into tech jobs for underrepresented talent.
In the past few years, some organizations have begun to address the root problems by directly improving access through network building, education, and training. Here are 4 companies that offer Full and Partial scholarships to help create an advantage for groups that otherwise may be unfairly overlooked.
School16, a part-time, online career development program for people interested in non-technical roles in tech like Marketing, Product Management, Operations and Sales, is offering 3 full scholarships and dozens of partial scholarships for any qualified applicant who identifies as a member of a community that is underrepresented in technology. Classes are taught by tech leaders currently in these coveted roles to help students build their network, and receive direct access to career mentorship.
Hackbright Academy, a women-focused coding school, is offering 2 half-price scholarships for women with demonstrated technical ability who want to enter into engineering jobs. Part-time and full-time program applicants are eligible, and the organization offers career support through their mentor network of qualified engineers.
Udacity is partnering with BIT to fund 1,000 “nanodegree scholarships” to members of the Black community interested in learning technical skills in Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Programming and Development. Courses promise to help people build up their project portfolio to be more attractive to employers hiring for these jobs.
Code Fellows, an online program that offers classes in Software Development as well as Ops and Cyber Security, has a scholarship fund that awards need-based scholarships toward 40-70% of tuition for their classes. The company offers community support and career transition services for people who come from non-traditional backgrounds into technical roles, and takes applications on a rolling basis.
Scholarship opportunities that provide skills development and community are just one way to create access for historically disenfranchised groups that are still fighting for representation in growing sectors of our economy. Companies need to address biases in their recruitment processes head on by changing what their organizations look and sound like from the inside and proactively build pathways for talent that actually reflect the communities that they continue to benefit from.
Disclaimer: The authors are affiliated with School16, a resource mentioned in this article.