Philadelphia apparently ranks 2nd in this list of best cities for STEM diversity - Technical.ly Philly

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Oct. 22, 2019 1:11 pm

Philadelphia apparently ranks 2nd in this list of best cities for STEM diversity

But it still has "a long way to go," according to several local technologists and diversity-focused community organizers.
Philadelphia ranks comparatively high for diversity in STEM.

Philadelphia ranks comparatively high for diversity in STEM.

(Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly's Gender Spectrum Collection)

Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) counted about 33,000 computer, engineering and science workers in Philadelphia in 2017.

According to info compiled by personal finance company SmartAsset, that puts the city at the number two spot — just behind D.C. — on the leadership board for diversity in STEM across the U.S.

In all cities surveyed, gender diversity remains below 45% representation, and STEM workers are still predominantly white, exceeding over 50% in the top 10 cities.

Here’s how the stats shake out for local STEM workers, according to the ACS:

  • Women: 37%
  • Non-white: 42% overall
  • Black: 15%
  • Asian: 17%
  • Hispanic/Latinx: 7%

We’re written a bunch about the importance of diversity in the Philadelphia tech community, and whether enough is being done to support it. So, we asked what folks in the tech community thought about this ranking over LinkedIn.

In sum: There’s still work to do.

Wilco Electronic Systems EVP and Mogulette founder Brigitte Daniel, who pushed the city’s diversity as an asset in last year’s Amazon HQ2 pitch videos, said Philly is improving in this realm, but “definitely [has] a long way to go.”

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“It’s the most intentional I have ever seen in regards to city wide collaboration around inclusion,” she said, noting Mayor Jim Kenney’s inclusive growth strategy, the plethora of accelerators (like the University City Science Center-run Launch Lane, which she’s supporting as an advisor) and other diversity-focused initiatives. More important, she said, is to consider the types of jobs held by women and people of color — “entry level or high tech?”

Nathaniel Hedman, software engineering manager for services and streams at URBN’s Nuuly, compared Philly to Silicon Valley.

“Anecdotally, I would say that the dire diversity statistics I see for the blue-chip tech companies out west have not been reflected in my experience in software engineering at Comcast or URBN,” he said of racial equity in tech. “Certainly a long way to go, though.”

Chariot Solutions Chief Marketing Officer and TechGirlz founder Tracey Welson-Rossman noted that “based on the Women in Tech Summits in other cities, Philly has a very strong women in tech community. We still have a long way to go, though.”

And Miriam Peskowitz, whose book “Code Like a Girl: Rad Tech Projects and Practical Tips” was released in August, said, “we look great in contrast to truly exclusive tech communities and ecosystems, and have so much work to do.”

But there’s reason for celebration: “I have found our tech community to be generous and open. It just feels different than others.”

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