BY LAURA WEIDMAN POWERS, CODE2040 CO-FOUNDER AND CEO
This weekend, February 1 to be exact, marks CODE2040’s third birthday. Some days it feels like just yesterday that CODE2040 was an idea Tristan and I were whiteboarding in a Foursquare conference room, and some days it feels like CODE2040 has existed forever, those early days a distant memory. However relative the time feels, so much has happened in three years. Here’s my top three:
We’ve shared nearly 50 Black and Latino/a engineers with Silicon Valley tech companies.
The Fellows Program, CODE2040’s flagship, started out with just five students in our pilot summer, 2012. At the close of summer 2014, we’d put nearly 10 times that number through the program over our three cohorts. For several of the startups we’ve worked with, their CODE2040 Fellow was their first Black or Latino/a hire, enabling them to hit a key diversity goal. For others, it was a chance to continue their commitment to diversity in a more public way, and in so doing to send a message to talent from all backgrounds that they’re welcome at their company.
Over 1,000 students have applied to be Fellows.
A common refrain of those lamenting the lack of diversity in their workforce is “We want to hire them, but where are they?” At CODE2040, we’ve made it our business to find the best emerging tech talent nationwide. And we’re well on our way. We know from National Science Foundation data that just under 60,000 computer science degrees (across BS, MS, and PhD) are awarded each year and over 8,000 of those go to Black and Latino/a students. Some quick math* shows that there are probably about 29,000 Black and Latino/a computer science students at all levels right now around the country. Black and Latino/as may be underrepresented in CS, but they’re certainly out there. About 1,000 of them have applied to be a part of CODE2040’s ecosystem so far, and we’re excited to track down the other 28,000.
Over 200 tech companies have taken steps to diversify their workforce.
Each year we put out a call for companies interested in hosting CODE2040 Fellows. We’ve been amazed to have over two hundred companies answer that call or reach out to us proactively. These are companies of all sizes, across all aspects of the tech universe. Back in early 2012, not many people were talking about diversity in tech. Today it’s in headlines across major news outlets and companies are putting some serious dollars behind their efforts. I’m amazed how much the climate has changed. It’s great news and means I’m even more excited for CODE2040 in our next three years and beyond.
It’s been fun to reflect, but I think it’s even more fun to look forward. Stay tuned for some big announcements about CODE2040’s next steps next week as we officially kick off year four!
*The math that yields the 29,000 number: the NSF data shows 8,868 Black and 2,999 Latino/a BS degree earners, 919 Black and 497 Latino/a MS degree earners, and 30 Black and 23 Latino/a PhD degree earners in computer science in 2009 (the latest data set available). I assumed four years for a BS, one for an MS, and four for a PhD. This probably underestimates the actual numbers since there is attrition from the major (so there would be more sophmore CS majors than seniors, for example) and this doesn’t count folks taking longer than four years for a BS, one for an MS, or four for a PhD.