When the pandemic shut down schools and sent students into virtual learning environments, the disparity in access to reliable technology was apparent. Families in underserved and under-resourced communities found themselves at a disadvantage, having limited access to devices and internet services within households, putting students who are already at risk in jeopardy of falling further behind. If education is supposed to be the great equalizer that levels the playing field, then the digital divide tipped the scales.
Technology has the power to build equity in underrepresented communities in areas of education, healthcare, and economic development. For Hispanics, who at 60 million represent about 18% of the U.S. population, technology is the key to fostering upward mobility. By 2050, 25% of Americans will identify as Hispanic, and 6 out of 10 will be Millennials or younger. One out of three women will identify as Hispanic by 2060. So the future is clearly multicultural, but the opportunities for advancement aren’t keeping pace. Hispanics are underrepresented in Fortune 500s and in technology sectors, and Latinas face a significant pay gap.
Education is the long-term economic strategy, and technology is part of the equation. Creating pathways for Hispanics to learn technology skills helps diversify the talent pipeline for corporations and creates favorable conditions for Hispanics to launch tech startups. Unity is power, and it will take a collaborative effort by local, state, and federal governments and the private sector to ensure digital equity for everyone.
Lili Gangas, Chief Technology Community Officer, Kapor Center and co-founder of LTX Connect discusses ways tech companies and government can close the digital divide in minority communities and create access to equitable education.