This article, co-written by Reboot Representation CEO Dwana Franklin-Davis and Last Mile Education Fund Founder Ruthe Farmer, originally appeared on 12/24/21 on TechCrunch.
The number of low-income students attending college is increasing: According to a 2016 report from the Pew Research Center, the total share of undergraduate college students who come from low-income families increased from 12% in 1996 to 20% in 2016. However, only 11% of students in the bottom income quartile complete their degrees within six years, compared to 58% for those in the top quartile.
This discrepancy should make you pause. Why are so many low-income students making it to college but not to degree completion, and thus, not reaching their full potential in the workforce? One short answer encompasses the issue: a lack of unique and targeted support and resources. And, in the tech sector specifically, this lack of support stems from a problematic ecosystem that often assumes privilege and affluence in its students and future employees.
These assumptions (subconscious or not) perpetuate a tech industry that fails to access a critical and fruitful talent pool by wrongfully and consistently disqualifying low-income students from the educational and career opportunities that open doors.
It’s clear that the tech education-to-career pipeline fails low-income students before degree completion and entrance into one of the highest-paid sectors in our economy — but we aren’t talking about it. Socioeconomic status must be part of the “diversity” conversation — it is underreported and underdiscussed.
Read more about how tech companies can support low-income students through their entire tech journey.