Later in my career, I used to travel to St Louis to meet with large customers. In a city with demographics of 47% black, I’d expect to be working with a sizable number of African Americans. Out of the 100 engineers I worked with, half were white and the other half were Asian. The only black employees I met were the security guards.
Similar scenario in Atlanta. Although I did work with a number of Black engineers, their accent indicated a birth place of the Caribbean or Africa.
It feels like the H1B system has become a barrier to entry for African Americans born in the US. Something should be done to make US students more attractive to employers than H1B. I don’t want a quota system, just a tax on H1Bs which make companies take a hard look at why they’re not hiring US citizens. The article indicates there’s not a pipeline problem. Something else is amiss.
Indian parents, on the other hand, aggressively push their kids into tech. Heck, a lot of my Indian co-workers don't even like programming but their parents basically forced them into it.
> If your parents didn't grow up swimming, they're less likely to take you.
Furthermore, if your parents can't swim, they may harbor fear of the water or drowning and seek to "protect" their children by actively avoiding pools or swim lessons, and thus the cycle will continue for many generations.
As an Immigrant to the US who could not make it big and had to go back(to India). It's not the most successful people, it's the most successful people in the prime of their health, career, academic and family situations. It's like everything that makes one fall in the top most cohort of people in history needs to happen to an individual. It's not just individual ability or hard work or talent. Everything from health and family situations to personal career situations just needs to work.
We are not just talking of the best people of the human race, we are also talking of the most luckiest.
US immigration is a combination of all those great Human enterprise things plus a very brutal lottery system. In short a very powerful filter that just picks the most successful people and makes them succeed further.
Luckily the Trump administration is cracking down on H1B abuse.
Criticisms of H1B are far older than Trump and the current political climate. If Trump does something right, it's still right, even though he's Donald Trump.
I guess this is considered ok?
Really wish they'd provided a link to the stud(y|ies). There certainly exist qualified people of all stripes, but are there enough to meet a population-level representative size?
The only articles I've read claiming there isn't one have all been click bait pieces written by journos, not scientists or educators, and contain no data. Just wild ass speculation about the underlying causes of the pipeline problem.
Which, yeah. The pipeline problem has lots of causes. But saying "we don't have a pipeline problem because there are reasons women don't major in CS" makes no sebse. It's like saying the roof doesn't have a leaking problem because the real problem is that the gutters are clogged. I mean, sure, that's true, and we need to fix that to fix the roof. But the roof is still leaking...
The only real argument I've heard that isn't prime facie flawed in this way is the argument that you don't really need college educated computer scientists to fill your SWE roles. That may be true for some roles and some companies, but lots of positions (e.g. all the ones I hire for) do require a strong education in CS and math. PhDs in STEM fields that go on to good boot camps or masters programs in CS can be good fits, but those are even more rare.
And, again, even that argument has no data to back it in the articles I've read. It's just not prime facia illogical.
Just guessing here, but there's probably a message board and clique of web blogs about dentistry full of people discussing the underrepresentation of minorities in their field and how they can fix their "pipeline problem".
Sorry, I must have missed the memo that citizens can only visit dentists of the same ethnicity.
>Dentists who are underrepresented minorities are more likely to serve communities in need and therefore address disparities in dental care.
Those coming from third-world to first-world are likely much more interested in money than culture, and I can't say for certain but my intuition is that the kinds of ethnic segregation (eg in NY/Chicago, where there's a whole array of little microtowns) that you see in the US are mostly generated by those poorer populations seeking wealth, not cultural value.
I imagine the equivalent American/European expat towns don't exist nearly as strongly/commonly in india/china, as the inverse exists in the US. (of course, you'd also expect less americans/europeans migrating to india/china, since the monetary difference isn't as strong).
It’s fairly normal for there to be a wide variety of reasons why specific areas are predominantly one or another ethnicity.
Once you're qualified, it's natural to go off and place yourself where you can make money.
As an anecdotal example, in my local practice, there are a lot of Eastern-European and now Greek dentists. They're excellent and came here to make more than they would at home (and prop up the NHS whilst they're at it) - I do have a concern that there's likely to be an impact on dental care in their country of origin though. I know precisely that has happened with nursing.
> People coming from underrepresented backgrounds don't want to spend 8 years doing a Phd, then a ML bootcamp, all so they can make low 6 figures at a job that could be outsourced or H1Bed at any minute when they could instead go to medical, dental, or law school and have a respected and well paid career.
OK. So what? I think it's reasonable for people to decide they don't want to spend years in a PhD program.
I'm having trouble parsing your argument. Are you saying the pipeline problem is due to minority students choosing other more lucrative professions? Good! What's wrong with that?
Just wow. You are saying people with ML expertise and PhD can be replaced any minute! It just shows your own bias against certain people. I have never seen or heard anyone who brings certain deep technical expertise replaced in a minute. Hiring people is _really_ hard and hiring people with deeper technical expertise is even harder.
And whats up with 6 figure number? 6 figures go as high as 100,000-999,999USD and I am not sure if being somewhere in median of it (say $200K) will be considered low income?
The study found that "(a) putative genetic racial differences do not account for a major portion of the IQ performance difference between racial groups, and (b) black and interracial children reared in the culture of the tests and the schools perform as well as other adopted children in similar families." 
"This paper proposes a parsimonious alternative explanation: the apparent IQ advantage of East Asian adoptees is an artifact caused by ignoring the Flynn effect and adoption’s beneficial effect on IQ, and most of the IQ disadvantage of Black adoptees disappears when one allows for attrition in the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study, and acknowledges the results of other studies. Diagnosing these artifacts suggests a nil hypothesis: East Asian, White, and Black adoptees raised in the same environment would have similar IQs, hinting at a minimal role for genes in racial IQ differences." 
But then there are further arguments and counterarguments; the "Interpretations" section is a full page. One coauthor says, "The results of the transracial adoption study can be used to support either a genetic difference hypothesis or an environmental difference one (because the children have visible African ancestry)." That's not true because "The adopting parents of 12 of the interracial children wrongly believed that their adopted children had two black parents", which at least gives you a comparison point for fully back vs. mixed, but that point is also disputable because "The study showed significant differences in adoption patterns of mixed-race black/white and black adopted children as was noted by Scarr and Weinberg" ("Children with two black parents were significantly older at adoption, had been in the adoptive home a shorter time, and had experienced a greater number of preadoption placements. The natural parents of the black/black group also averaged a year less of education than those of the black/white group...").
It would be nice if people identified the genes responsible for the main visible differences between races, verified that they only affected skin color and maybe a few other cosmetic traits, and were able to manipulate that directly to do controlled experiments. (And to confound actual racists by hiding someone's true race; having a lot of people with randomized racial appearance seems to be the most thorough way to train everyone to not make judgments based on apparent race.) Who knows when that'll happen, though.
Instead, the author talks about IBM's "support" of Nazi Germany and ends with statistics on the low amount of African-Americans employed in the tech industry.
Yet the percentage of blacks and non-Asian minorities in high-tech professions consistently remains under 2%. For minority women, the numbers are even more dismal. Recent studies conclude this is not a “pipeline” problem — qualified candidates can be found.
Ah, the classical trick of excluding data points that don't fit the narrative. It's far more convenient to blame the Bad White Man for everything than to ask the real questions.
Asian minorities also suffer from racism but it doesn't necessarily work the same way or have the same stereotypes attached
Talk about affirmative action in sports, and people will laugh.
Look into NYC’s high school exam if you want to see the same problem in another light. Asians are over represented there as well and there’s a fight to make it capped per racial groups.
There is only one other demographic group, other than ours, which doesn't experience systemic racism in America: white women. (For them, it's systemic sexism.)
Getting killed or physically assaulted without cause during routine traffic stops and misdemeanor arrests isn't the only kind of racism. (Although it is clearly worse than, say, being underrepresented at the top levels of management.)
Instead of taking on any government contracts because "we can't be responsible for what an administration does and can't predict how they'll be viewed in the future, and the only way we'll get any blowback for this is if that country got invaded by multiple coalitions at once and all of their administrative records are leaked, what are the odds of that!"
Its might be "hey maybe their views are also affecting our customers, and also the other people on the board and their families, here is a different way we can boost revenues"
About 15 years ago I was at a cross roads, I have had a great career as a good developer that has made a name for himself. I joined a startup, planned a strategy and we had a very successful exit. I went on to join one of our suppliers who was having serious technical challenges, as the CTO I righted the company (they where in no trouble but severely missing their mark as far as potential goes due to technical limitations). After fixing this orgs tech problems we where bought out by the largest global travel conglomerate.
After this, my name proceeded me in the Orlando technical market and it is here were we get to the meat of the story (TLDR start reading here). Anyways, we sold, and I was basically in a figure head position, no real responsibilities and no real future other than collecting a pay check for past efforts. It was not what I wanted to do so I started applying for positions. One such was with a 14 billion a year company that was very successful in their market, but had technical problems limiting their growth. I am being intentionally vague on the details of this company as I do not want to identify the CEO or the organization.
So I interview and I nail it, I interview with the white VP's, the white board of directors and the black CEO. I nailed it so hard that the board offers me the job and package before talking to the CEO. I mean on the spot in the interview, I am asked by the board what kind of package do we need to put together to get you on-board.
So we talk, we put together a package and I leave thinking I am starting a new gig. The hiring consultant (similar to a recruiter but works with execs) calls the next day to tell me congratulations. Only to call me the nest day to tell me there is a huge row between the board and the CEO and that I would be best to wait it out.
I find out that this row is due to the fact that the CEO and founder is adamant about hiring his friend who has been the CTO of a small college. In his role he has never managed custom software development (which they did a lot of) and was basically a glorified network administrator. This gentleman was black.
I was thus offered a consultancy gig by the board to bring this CTO up to speed. Which I naturally declined.
While most would think this is a story of sour grapes, it is one of the best events that has happened to me in my life. As a white man I have never experienced another individual preferred over me solely because that person identified with the other individual. Even if that persons qualifications are inferior to my own. It opened my eyes and I am grateful to that CEO for it.
I actually remained in contact with said CEO and we later became good friends. One night at dinner, I point blanked asked him about it and this is what he told me. He said Kenton, you have a name in this community with you sale of companies to HRN and to TUI, you have no problem opening doors, you where absolutely the best candidate that walked thru our door. That being said, had someone of my same race had not choose me over the more qualified candidate I would not be where I am today, He said you see we don't get the opportunities to advance like you naturally do and if we don't help each other get those opportunities they never manifest.
He told me he was the one that suggested the package of me coming in as a consultant to mentor the new CTO as he wanted to provide the same opportunity that he had been provided.
I was floored, and pretty much felt like a dickhead for asking the question. My only response was, had I known. To which he replied well I could not exactly level with you given the fact that we where not friends at the time.
I went on to mentor his CTO and they where hugely successful exiting to a fortune 5 company. In the end it was a happy ending, and I learned a few things about humanity and racism. It was one of the greatest learning experiences I have ever had.
That's clearly unfair. The insinuation is that only non-black people can achieve the best qualifications, which seems exceedingly offensive.
What was your intended take-away -- surely not "nepotism/racism are fine if you're black [in USA]"?
My take away was that it really, butt hurts you bad when it happens to you and we as white people rarely experience said butt hurt. It puts things into perspective and I am thankful for that perspective.
Point being, I don't think it was fair and I am not justifying his actions, but it helps me relate to the feeling that black Americans feel. A little empathy goes a long way and the perspective taught me empathy without pandering.
I don't think you understand probability, they would each have equal chance. Isn't that the goal? If course there would be less chance of a "black American" occupying the role, but that would be for exactly the right reason, lower representation in the population from which one is selecting.
>we as white people rarely experience said butt hurt //
Is this perhaps simply down to expectation. The "it's because I is black" meme: if you're a minority in a particular physical characteristic and fail to achieve a role you assume discrimination. The corollary is that whilst discrimination might not be felt emotionally is still unfair to discriminate against a person based on the colour of their skin.
You're right about empathy, but empathy with those suffering racist discrimination is a strange place to decide to be racist.
That's not how that works.
The Humpty-Dumpty prerogative ? I can respect that.
> "When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'. 'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'. 'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all."
i'm not really complaining, you communicate well enough.
I tend to be literal-minded and the mid-stream "marker" to "start reading here" threw me off.
My pet peeve in re: "TL;DR:" is when people put it at the end, it's like, what's the point? I already read the thing. You're too late. Put it at the start. (Also, it's called "summary" or "abstract" people, sheesh!)
Then along comes kls, just slighting it in after a few paragraphs, completely repurposed, and, well, I couldn't help myself. Sorry dude.
> “Garbage in, garbage out,” software engineers say. Likewise, racism in, racism out. Biased developers produce biased code.
The author either made zero effort to understand how things work, or willingly chose to pass judgment on developers to drive his political point.
"Biased developers produce biased code" - absolute nonsense.
Every sentence individually is true. And Tay was a case of garbage in garbage out. But the Tay case didn't involve biased developers. The garbage in came from Twitter trolls, not from the code or developers.
If "otherwise take care" means block every form of bad thing, they aren't otherwise taking care.
"Somehow, he managed to obtain copies of the IBM entrance examination questions and answers, which he surreptitiously shared with promising young black job applicants. He coached them on passing the exam and succeeding in their interviews. Many were subsequently hired."
I'm sure this helped contribute to an increase in black hires, but is a stupidly short-sighted thing to do and then boast about.
Then this appears, which might indicate that they might (maybe didn't happen, maybe not to this candidate) have had the interview answers given to them. It potentially taints.
And these are just recent incidents where the victims were lucky enough to have their stories told and be remembered. Stuff like this happens all day everyday. Job descrimination more so. Why did we spend four trillion dollars (adj) fighting Hitler?
If it was "This is the type of interview and type of questions you're likely to come across" - then I've no real issue. As you mention, educational opportunities were not equal, so maybe counteracts the implicit bias of not being provided with general information from tutor/peers/previous-experience - "this being your first IT interview, you should know.." or "how a bunch of white guys tend to do things"
Story is being re-told through the father, son, book and now newspaper article - so who knows.
Secretly breaking the rules because the system isn't fair is like lying because the truth will get you in trouble. It doesn't right any wrong or effect any change; you're just taking advantage of everyone who assumes you're an honest person.
So according to you, Jews in Nazi Germany should have come out as Jews instead of pretending to pass off as gentile?
There's so many variables at play when hiring it's just silly to presume that 100% perfect fairness in tests is of any huge significance to "fairness" of outcome or to maximizing the benefits for a company, especially when compared to the things like racial or other purely personal biases. The idea of "keeping the bar high" is too idealized, as tests and interviews even today just measure how prepared is that person for taking the tests, and not the real world knowledge and abilities. Ultimately what company really cares about is estimating the future performance of that employee, not just the knowledge. People who had to fight hard for a chance to work will often be much better hire and work harder and do more for the company, than someone a little more knowledgeable, but who lacks that kind of drive.
We already know IBM failed to hire qualified black engineers because they were black. This may well have been cases of qualified people working around a corrupt system.
The first black IBM engineer isn't going to want new black hires to be incompetent -- quite the opposite. He likely did his own screening.
Because the point of being given the answers is to meet qualifications that you don't actually possess.
Let's say you have two candidates, one white and one black. In IBM's case, it was more likely they had hundreds of white candidates and a handful of black candidates.
Now assume your hiring managers or practices are racist, which we know IBM's were (as were most companies' at that point, when it would still be 20 years before racial discrimination became illegal).
Finally, assume that the average scores of the black and white engineers are similar. It shouldn't really matter, because (as we've seen from LSAT scores, Google's HR, and other sources) no test has been developed that's a good measure of future productivity.
In this situation, you're never going to hire the black engineer. Even if you yourself aren't racist, you know you likely have colleagues who are. You see hiring the black engineer as risky.
If the black engineer instead has excellent test scores, you as a non-racist hiring manager get to cover your ass.
Does that make sense? Coaching on tests was a way of counteracting the racism. It had no bearing on whether the candidates were less qualified in this case.
That is a pretty silly argument that you wouldn't make in any other context. For instance, I also don't recall hearing that IBM suffered huge losses as a result of rampant discrimination. But that doesn't mean that they should do it.
> There's so many variables at play when hiring it's just silly to presume that 100% perfect fairness in tests is of any huge significance to "fairness" of outcome or to maximizing the benefits for a company, especially when compared to the things like racial or other purely personal biases.
I don't recall making that assumption. However, it's clear that any benefit the test may have had in selecting candidates is completely subverted by giving them the answers. And it's certainly not up to this guy to make that decision.
> The idea of "keeping the bar high" is too idealized, as tests and interviews even today just measure how prepared is that person for taking the tests, and not the real world knowledge and abilities. Ultimately what company really cares about is estimating the future performance of that employee, not just the knowledge. People who had to fight hard for a chance to work will often be much better hire and work harder and do more for the company, than someone a little more knowledgeable, but who lacks that kind of drive.
That may well be true. And when you create your own IBM, you can apply whatever candidate selection method you like. Maybe your method will be so good that your company will outperform all the others. However, IBM has their method and it is not the right of some random engineer to subvert that process for their own personal reasons.
Secondly, while it's true that "IQ like" puzzle tests may not be a good method of filtering candidates, it is not the case that knowledge tests have no value. For an engineering job, there is absolutely a minimum knowledge bar you need to pass to be effective. If you can't code FizzBuzz, you probably don't belong in an engineering role, basically anywhere. We don't know which type of test these were. Or at least, I don't.
Assuming (somewhat fairly) that racism was a factor in IBM's hiring decisions at the time, it's reasonable to believe his judgement to be better.
Since he would never have a chance to influence more than a small fraction of IBM's many hires, any "reverse racism" he might exhibit in his judgement would still fall short of tipping the balance.
And, of course, several factors would moderate any pro-black bias: he has a clear interest to only promote competent candidates able to change people's minds. The candidates would still need to be able to convince their interviewers, etc.
I guess it boils down to whether you think life should be like golf, where (terrible term in this context, apologies for the usage here) you carry a handicap to level the playing field.
It's actually very complicated, because there were a lot of backroom deals between the two major races to make it not look like racism.
I appreciate your intent in trying to re-balance against prejudice.
I also appreciate you helping out candidates with good advice, when you do it. That's what we should do for all colleagues, before, during, and after interviews, as mutually-supportive people of goodwill. And doing it more in some cases makes sense.
I'm concerned about a pattern of racism you allege, and that sounds like something to investigate. I believe there's ample data that could be looked at. I don't know about your organization, but, some places, it would be politically safe to raise this important concern with your manager or HR. It's not a happy thing to look for, but looking for it, and figuring out how to fix any problems that appear, is the right thing to do (for the organization, and for greater society).
The other side of that concern is that you seem to be singling out another labeled group, and stereotyping over them. That doesn't sound fair to that group, nor to all the individuals within it. I think that good practice for fighting injustice includes striving to improve things everywhere, including root causes -- not thinking only of the injustices with which we are most immediately familiar.
The automatic stellar feedback might be a concern. I'm sure there's room for subjectivity, discretion, and holistic assessments, and maybe your stellar feedback fits within that. When I've given boosts to less-advantaged candidates (for various reasons, including "undiscovered diamonds in the rough"), I've been upfront with my peers and superiors about that. A big part of our job as engineers is to give characterizations and counsel, and, when we have something important to say, we want to be respected and taken seriously.
I'm Asian, worked at FANG, have never discriminated against someone based on their ethnicity and frankly find your actions shortsided and regressive. You're fighting perceived racism with actual racism.
FAANGs are still American companies. They didn't check their historical baggage at the door.
When a police officer forces me to hand the bag of cash back to the cashier, it isn't robbery.
Motives and circumstances matter.
> America's "historical baggage"? As if every other nation on Earth doesn't have similar historical baggage.
Other countries' transgressions don't absolve the US', in the same way that other people's crimes don't absolve all criminals. And while there are probably few people that never break any laws, there's still a difference between murderers and jaywalkers. For countries, there are obviously small countries that avoided committing atrocities just by a lack of opportunity. There are recently formed countries that enjoy what for Germans born after 1945 is called "the good luck of being born late". And even among larger countries with long and sometimes dark histories, not all injustice is equal: it's plainly possible to see the injustice of France's conduct in Algeria while still acknowledging it pales in comparison to the Shoah.
In the world today the most racist nations are not the developed nations, but large parts of Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.
edit: op edited post so this response looks a little off.
For my part, I’ve had several unpleasant “oh, now that it’s just us Asians here let me tell you what I think” moments over the years.
Maybe if it was, “Now that it’s just us Koreans, or Chinese, or Indians,” then maybe.
From my experience, Asian Americans are extremely progressive.
No one think they have ever discriminated against someone based on ethnicity. Even Donald Trump sincerely believes in his heart of hearts that he is the least racist person who has ever walked this good earth. But actions speak louder than words, and my real life experiences are not 'perceived', nor are the results. If a black candidate has two Asian interviewers in a loop, chances of hire are nil, no matter the skill of the candidate. This is based on a sample of ~15-20. I really wish tech companies collected data about the ethnic background of both the interviewers, candidates and the results to clearly illuminate this glaring problem, otherwise everything I say is anecdotal/heresay.
Even speaking for myself, when I've interviewed the only places I've received offers were during loops where there was a max of one asian interviewer.
As for your first question, I'm getting into murky waters but I'll admit that it is difficult to put aside the fact that every Asian you hire, makes it harder for another black candidate to get hired. But it's definitely not as simple as rejecting every asian candidate, definitely don't want to leave a pattern behind :)
This has to be Poe's law. This is incredibly racist.
The grand parent said he was getting into "murky waters" but in fact he is fully submerged in the deep end of racism.
If asked, I would strongly deny being even remotely sexist. Ironically, if I were in a position to hire or promote a female candidate or employee, I might be unreasonably biased toward the notion on account of wanting to have a diverse team. But in the aforementioned scenario I was caught inside of my own projections of an invisible pecking order.
The prospect that there are people who might have a similar reaction to my asserting myself while being a black man frightened me. I ruminated over past interactions, framing them in a completely different context.
Trying to make it in this industry has created a certain amount of anxiety and resentment, and it's compounded by the fact that I don't know which parts of it are my imagination or reality. I want to make it clear that I'm not trying to argue that everyone is prejudiced toward me, but rather my own constant uncertainty of how I'm perceived is both alienating and discouraging.
I wish there was a tactful way of requesting non-Indian interviewers, but there really isn't. There is no bigger waste of time than when you receive an interview schedule and see the names of the interviewers and 4/5 are Indian. Earlier in my career I'd go for the practice but I wouldn't even bother now tbh.
On a serious note, to keep a long winded answer short, I'm well aware of the phenomena that your mindset does indeed effect your behaviour/signals you put out and that in turn does effect how people treat you, and mindset is not something that can easily be faked. I've always been hyper conscious about this going into interviews and have even paid for some in-person mock interviews at some point in my career during a rough patch to spot any anomalies/negative vibes I may be giving off.
For an iota of what it is worth, I _genuinely_ am happy to see black candidates. If anything I have a heightened sense of fairness and post interview I offer to spend extended time to attune them to the next interview rounds. In case I do happen to reject the candidate, I offer to write elaborate review from my notes (I take a lot of notes) with the hope it helps the candidate. Again, sorry.
Only slightly. Very strong candidates will more than likely get a pass, but those are exceedingly rare and haven't seen one yet tbh. It's the majority who are genuinely borderline/just above average who will never get a pass/given benefit of the doubt that are given to others.
When compared to the reality that almost an entire race of people in North America were stolen from their homes and brought to a new land as slaves to benefit their white owners... any potential wrong you are focusing on here is only visible with a microscope.
Your bad behavior doesn't need intent. You didn't need to intend to be a racist when you put him under a microscope like that -- but that doesn't mean you weren't racist when you decided it was important enough to write about. Especially considering the exact behavior is frequent among all races.
And it's the top comment at HN. I can't help but think this says something important about what is really going on.
The reason the original commenter doesn't like it is because said behavior is cheating. Injecting race as an attribute doesn't change the fact that the behavior is cheating.
Black employees though, not so much.
This is racism.
EDIT: Before you start nitpicking my examples:
"They delight in breaking rules..."
Stop trying to make everything about race. It is all so tiresome.
I'll keep a running list of such comments until I get tired of it.
tl;dr:"My father helped hire a lot of people, yet somehow total demographics didn't change". Right, one person should have definitely solved the problem but incredibly it didn't. Brilliant logic.