Silicon Valley’s Awful Race and Gender Problem in 3 Mind-Blowing Charts


Catherine Bracy moved to San Francisco from Chicago during the 2012 campaign to run Team Obama’s technology field office, a first-of-its-kind project that enlisted Silicon Valley’s whiz-kid engineers to build software for the campaign. (That tech savvy, of course, played a pivotal role in Obama’s victory.) What struck Bracy about the tech-crazed Bay Area, she recounted Thursday in a talk at the Personal Democracy Forum tech conference, was the jarring inequality visible everywhere in Silicon Valley—between rich and poor, between men and women, between white people and, well, everyone else.

Bracy’s talk featured some eye-popping charts on Silicon Valley’s race and gender divide. Here are three of them.

In 2010, the latest year for which Bracy could find data, 89 percent of California companies that got crucial seed funding were founded by men. What percentage were all-female founding teams? Just three percent.

CB Insights, Venture Capital Human Capital Report, January-June 2010

Bracy looked at that funding breakdown by race—and there’s even less diversity. In 2010, less than 1 percent of the founders of Silicon Valley companies were black, a figure so small Bracy didn’t put it on her white-guy-dominated pie chart.

CB Insights, Venture Capital Human Capital Report, January-June 2010

And when looking at the economic winners and losers in Silicon Valley, that racial disparity really pops out. From 2009 to 2011, income for blacks living in Silicon Valley dropped by 18 percent, compared to a decrease of 4 percent nationally. Hispanics fared badly, too. The big winners were whites and Asian Americans.

Silicon Valley Foundation/Joint Venture Silicon Valley, 2013 Silicon Valley Index

Oh, one more thing: According to Bracy, women make 49 cents for every dollar men make in Silicon Valley. You don’t need a chart to feel the force of that statistic.

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