Earlier this week, the San Jose Mercury published an article, “Asian-American Tech Workers Absent from Silicon Valley’s Executive Suites,” that describes how the Ascend Foundation wants to add Asians to the classes of black, women and Latino engineers that are supposedly discriminated against by Silicon Valley. This deceptive use of statistics reminds me of the saying: “Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.”
The data the Mercury relies on are from a new Ascend Foundation’s study that argues that discriminated Silicon Valley Asian-Americans occupy 27.2 percent of professional jobs at the tech firms, but only 13.9 percent of executive jobs, according to data filed by Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, LinkedIn and Yahoo filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since 2013.
“The Ascend Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Pan-Asian organization primarily engaged in research with a mission to advocate, enable and assist Pan-Asians in North America,” according to its website.
Buck Gee, a former Cisco Systems vice president who co-authored the Ascend report released Wednesday, claims that only one of every 285 Asian women engineers at Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, LinkedIn and Yahoo those companies is an executive, compared with one of every 87 white men. Gee said in an interview, “Asian women have a 260 percent disadvantage” in becoming a silicon Valley executive. He added, “There’s clearly something going on.”
There actually is lots of “things going on” with Mr. Gee’s use of “figures.” The facts are:
- About 20 percent more women are enrolled in college than men.
- Men are 600 percent more likely than women to major in college engineering.
- Asians are only 3 percent of the US population.
- There are at least 789,000 H1-Bs currently outstanding working in the US.
- H1-B workers are mostly, according to government data under 35 years of age.
- Obama made one million H1-B spouses and children eligible for green cards.
- Silicon Valley ranks highest in “H-1B intensity,” with 1.7% of work force.
Ascend far understates Asian participation in Silicon Valley. The percentage of Asian tech workers grew from 39 percent in 2000 to just more than 50 percent in 2010 in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties combined; while white workers saw their more than 50 percent majority of tech jobs in 2000 fall to nearly 41 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
As Breitbart News has reported in “Jesse Jackson talks Diversity As Silicon Valley Outsources Jobs,” Silicon Valley normally discloses their demographics by lumping Asians in with whites, because Asians are the dominant race employed in tech. LinkedIn has 39% females and 91% white and Asian; Yahoo is 37% female and 89% white and Asian; Facebook is 31% female and 91% white and Asian; Twitter is 30% female and 88% white and Asian; eBay is 42% female and 87% white and Asian.
Furthermore, a huge percentage of Silicon Valley tech workers (about 15%) are H1-Bs, mostly from Asia. H1-B workers are not “Asian-Americans”–they are Asian citizens on temporary assignment in the U.S.. The vast majority of H1-Bs are under age 35, because Silicon Valley companies want the cheapest tech labor possible. This combination of Asians being both young and temp workers should mean that fewer Asians would be in senior executive positions.
Even using Ascend’s numbers, with only 5.3 percent of the US population, Asians hold 13.9 percent executive jobs in Silicon Valley. That means “Asians” are 262 percent more likely to hold Silicon Valley executive jobs than their demographic group would predict.
Ascend slyly conflates Asians working in a “professional jobs” at tech firms with being qualified to be an executive at a tech firm. There are a tremendous number of professional jobs at tech firms in accounting, design and other specialties. But almost all Silicon Valley tech firms require engineering degrees to even compete for an executive position that involves a high technology company.
The fact that Asian women are only 1/3 as likely as “white men” to hold executive positions in Silicon Valley is also directly related to the fact there are 20 percent more women in college, who are also six times less likely to major in engineering.
Ascend has every right to “advocate, enable and assist Pan-Asians in North America”–they just should use honest figures if they want any credibility.