The United States is home to the largest technology market in the world, this year alone representing approximately $1.7 trillion. In addition, careers in technology consistently remain among the top with 700,000 current job opening in the country. However, despite the tremendous revenue and employment opportunities, Blacks and Latinos only represent a combined 3% of the technology workforce. White males are the largest demographic, holding 83% of executive ranks in the field.
Experts contribute the dramatically reduced minority representation to lack of information about the field, few people of color who actually work in technology serving as mentors to others and false perceptions of what is needed to pursue technology careers. In an effort to address the shortage of minorities in the industry, the Recorder has selected Rupal Thanawala, an established IT executive, as its technology editor. Thanawala will launch a new technology column: Tic-Tock-Tech, where she will inform readers of the latest technology news and interview technology professionals among many other things.
“As a woman and a person of color in the technology field, Rupal has broken barrier after barrier. I am excited to have her on the team, as her expertise and approach are sure to expose more African Americans and minorities, in general, to the technology and STEM industries,” said Robert Shegog, Recorder president.
The Recorder recently interviewed Thanawala to get her perspective on the tech industry and her upcoming column.
Recorder: You have helped countless individuals and organizations, but especially women. What fuels your passion?
Thanawala: I am a first-generation college student. Attending college was a big deal for me because where I am from (India), many people, and especially women, rarely go to college. We couldn’t afford the $150-a-year tuition, so my family and I sacrificed a lot. There are so many women like me. My path and career outcome motivate me to encourage other women. I know I can inspire them.
What factors do you believe contribute to such low minority representation in the tech industry?
There are a number of reasons, but the main one is people think the industry is very hard or that you need a four-year degree which are not always the case. Technology is extremely broad. This is the only career where we need people with all different types of skills such as writing and graphic design. You can be interested in video games and your experience as a user could lead to a job opportunity.
What has been the greatest downfall for not having more people of color in the tech industry?
One downfall is the impact on the work and how that relates to people of color. For instance, you don’t need non-minority groups designing things for minorities. We need a seat at the table. Not having representation is a missed opportunity, not only for us, but for corporations too.
What will set Tic-Tock-Tech apart from other technology columns?
Technology has such a broad spectrum of topics. I want to break those topics down in a way that resonates with others. I will also interview others in the industry who will connect with readers so people will see how a career in technology is not only fun and interesting but also achievable.
What is your ultimate goal for the column?
I want to inspire more and more young people to be part of the technology transformation. We need to start at the middle school level to get them interested in the field at very young age, so by the time they are in high school they are confident and sure of their interests in technology and STEM careers. We must get more African Americans in the technology workforce and this column will help with that. I want the column to be a grassroots initiative so we can be opportunistic and realize this is a good opportunity for minorities and we need to drive it.
I also want to bring resources to readers. We have done a poor job of bringing people together. We have to do a better job of making this industry more inclusive. Ultimately, I want to educate, encourage and empower. We must support each other.
If you have to topics you’d like to read about in Tic-Tock-Tech or suggestions for interviewees, email Rupal Thanawala at RupalT@IndyRecorder.com.