Written by: Morgan Butler, Digital Media Associate
On January 20-21, 2016, the Multicultural Media, Telecom, and Internet Council (MMTC) hosted their 7th Annual Broadband and Social Justice Summit, which focused on diversity within the tech industry, access to broadband, and related topics.
Joint Center President Spencer Overton moderated a panel focused on the importance of diversification within the tech field. Panelists included Chief of Staff to Congressman G. K. Butterfield Troy Clair, Co-Author of 50 Billion Dollar Boss Andrea Hoffman, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates Policy & Communications Manager Kham Moua, and Comcast Senior Director of Government & External Affairs Antonio Williams. The discussion included thoughts on public-private partnerships to expand the STEM education pipeline and bridging entry-to-executive gaps in government and business. Panelists also tackled the common misapprehension of over-representation of Asian Americans in tech sector ranks. Data shows that while Asian Americans are well-represented in lower-level positions – 27 percent – they are victim to the “bamboo ceiling” – severe under-representation at the management and executive levels.
Maryland Senate Majority Leader and President of the National Caucus of Black State Legislators Catherine Pugh highlighted that people of color are some of the biggest consumers of technology, yet own and create the least amount of capital. Majority Leader Pugh—who participated in the Joint Center’s 2015 June Roundtable which focused on technology—called for the tech industry to bring operations and jobs to communities with large populations of people of color.
Access to broadband was also a significant issue. According to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, three out of four teachers assign homework to students that requires Internet access to complete. For adults, stable Internet access in the home means greater labor-force participation and access to upward mobility opportunities like further education. While approximately 74.4 percent of all households reported having access to some form of Internet in 2013, only 66.7 percent of Latino households, 61.3 percent of African American households, and 48.4 percent of low-income households reported having access in 2013, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau study.