Asians: Tech's Invisible Minority
Another day in tech is another day with a new initiative advocating for more diversity and inclusion within the industry. This initiative, Project Include, is being led by well-known women in tech who seem to be working towards making entire careers out of this made up problem.
At this point, it’s an accepted reality of the industry we’re in that it’s rampant with racism and sexism. Tech journalists default to enthusiastic praise for anything that focuses on women or minorities (assuming they count as minorities).
Unfortunately, there are so few people attempting to question their claims because doing so would earn them the title of Sexist or Racist — possibly even costing them their job.
The problem with a group like Project Include is they present themselves as champions of diversity and inclusion as if they’re objective arbiters who want an open culture where all people of all backgrounds are welcome. However, groups like Project Include are ideological in nature and they only concern themselves with issues they believe are worth fighting for.
The diversity community’s obsessive focus on skin color, gender, and sexual orientation in the workplace is a good example of that. This may be important to some people but there are plenty of others who don’t put that much thought into any one of these characteristics.
Is it more concerning for someone to feel out of place because they’re gay than it is because they’re a Republican? The answer should be no but in a world where “hate crime” is a thing (thought crime) this doesn’t come to me as a surprise.
Project Include’s case studies provide one good example.
If a nonbinary employee has come out or is experiencing problems at work, do not belittle, undermine, or invalidate their gender. Instead of guessing about the language a nonbinary employee uses to describe themselves, managers should simply ask. Managers should be aware that phrases suggesting that gender is a choice — like “identifies as” or “prefers to be called” — can feel dismissive to some nonbinary people. Affirmative, clear phrases like “she uses female pronouns” or “her name is Belinda” set an inclusive example for the team.
Ignoring the possiblity that some nonbinary people probably don’t give a fuck about something like this (find any gay person who no longer cares about the word fag) why wouldn’t a group like Project Include strive to include all people who feel belittled by their peers regardless of what that reason may be?
Facebook has made news recently with two examples that aren’t much different than the case study example if you don’t assume that gender identity is inherently more important than political affiliation.
Mark Zuckberberg openly made a political statement when he criticized an employee who crossed out “Black Lives Matter” from their company wall replacing it with “All Lives Matter”.
Not long after politics were brought into the workplace again when an employee submitted the following question to their weekly Q&A Session with Zuckberberg: “What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?” It was well received internally with enough votes to push it to the 5th place spot.
Is there any concern at all for the conservatives or Trump supporters who may work at Facebook? Is there any concern with the employee’s open implication that Trump is inherently bad? Do employees at Facebook feel comfortable and free to voice their opinions at work if their opinions don’t fall in line with the consensus progressive ideology within Silicon Valley?
Inclusiveness within tech didn’t extend to Brendan Eich or Curtis Yarvin even though both of these instances were entirely isolated to personal views outside of the workplace.
Instead founding members of Project Include are focused on much more important issues.
my team now has a jar where people have to drop $1 when using a male word to address/describe a mixed gender group pic.twitter.com/U9Dju9cALN— Tracy Chou (@triketora) April 23, 2015
This ideological approach is wrong because the end goal is focused more on equality of results rather than opportunity. Eventually, this endless pursuit of equal results driven by ideology comes to a crossroads when data doesn’t fit their narrative.
A few days ago I saw a tweet comparing wages between whites and Asians.
Asian Privilege? Racial Pay Gap of 19.4% for All Men v. Asian Men is > than the 17.5% Gender Pay Gap @CHSommers pic.twitter.com/DwHHtKJICX— Mark J. Perry (@Mark_J_Perry) May 4, 2016
This chart isn’t specific to the tech industry but the conventional narrative is that whiteness and maleness is the recipe for success — you’re playing life on easy mode as a white man in America. And it’s no surprise the tech industry has no shortage of Asians.
So what’s causing Asian men and Asian women to outperform whites? And more importantly, why isn’t this racial discrepancy being addressed when we’re talking about white privilege and a lack of diversity?
The answer is rather simple. It doesn’t fit their narrative so they ignore it.
We see this at a national level when Asians are excluded from affirmative action policies simply because they’re Asian (real racism). If Asian performance were openly addressed and analyzed this wouldn’t be such a big deal. Unfortunately it isn’t.
This is problematic because this outright dismissal of data helps to perpetuate a viewpoint diversity and inclusion activists hold that may simply be wrong. More importantly, it may be avoiding the actual cause of this problem therefore doing more harm than good. If racism and sexism are such huge problems in tech companies, how are Asians able to make it both in tech and America? This must be addressed.
One factor worth considering is upbringing. We all know the stereotypes — they exist for a reason. Asian parents are very involved parents giving their children little choice in academic pursuits. Academic performance is quite literally everything in an Asian household. Asian parents also push their kids towards extra curricular activities, most notably the piano and violin.
This level of involvement seems to be doing well if we look at actual data. Asians earn more than every other race — even privileged whiteys. Asians do so well with academic performance that some colleges actually limit the number of Asians they’ll admit, even with perfect SAT scores and GPAs. Colleges are quite literally dismissing more qualified students in the name of diversity and fairness and communities like Project Include would embrace this in the private sector with open arms.
There’s another factor with Asians that’s worth addressing. They’re at the top for family stability.
In general Asians are very involved parents and they’re not divorcing nearly as often. This stable family is crucial when we look at what happens to children from single parent households. One study found “children from single-parent families had twice the incidence of psychiatric illness, suicide attempts and alcohol abuse problems compared with those from two-parent homes”.
The academic results of single parent households aren’t promising either.
- The school dropout rate for children in single-mother families is twice as high as the rate for children in two-parent families.
- Children in one-parent families have lower grade point averages and poorer school attendance records.
- As adults, they are less likely to graduate from college and more likely to become single parents themselves.
Source: Psychology Today
By no means are stable households with Asian values the only driving factor for their well-being in America or for their representation within tech. But when every conversation around diversity boils down to an atmosphere of white guys not welcoming anyone who doesn’t look like them, why ignore a minority group that doesn’t fit the narrative in nearly every measurable way?
If you made it this far and you like this post I talk about similar topics on my new podcast, The Adam Morgan Show. I wrote about starting it here and you can find me on iTunes here. If you decide to listen let me know via Twitter and I’ll buy you a coffee/beer. For reals.