In reading a recent article in Business Insider on changes at GitHub, I noticed a rather surprising bullet point by Nicole Sanchez regarding "Diversity and Inclusion in Tech", which was

Some of the biggest barriers to progress are white women.

It reminded me of a claim I read in an American Institutions class long ago that racism displayed by Caucasians against Native Americans didn't really set in when it was mostly male trappers and explorers interacting with Native Americans; it was only when women arrived that racism got really bad. At the time, I wondered if that was actually true or just sounded good (to male textbook writers!), and decided that historical records were probably not accurate enough to settle the matter (even of the order of events, let alone to establish causality).

But the claim in Ms. Sanchez' slide is apparently about the situation today. It's not entirely clear what the context was of the presentation, but Ms. Sanchez recently wrote a USA Today article about the tech sector in general where she makes a similar but weaker set of claims.

So at least with the (lack of) context presented by Business Insider, it sounds like the claim is: "Some of the biggest barriers to diversity and inclusion in technology are white women". (From context, we can probably assume this means "in the U.S.".) The statement, in this form, has been picked up by number of niche regular and social media outlets (including Reddit, BZNews, etc.). But is it true?

There ought to be a good deal of diversity data that could shed light on the situation. For instance, if there was an inverse correlation between ethnic diversity and white-female-to-white-male ratio in tech companies, it would demonstrate that the claim is true for at least some metric of diversity or inclusiveness.

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    This is a very wide question, but it's based on a statement that likely had a context. This question should be restricted to that - for example, does it apply universally? Limited to her company? To her country? Etc.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 0:51
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    I must admit, even with the edit I've having a hard time understanding what the claim is. Why are white women supposedly a barrier to progress? What type of progress specifically? How is this progress supposedly being impeded? 33% of what being what isn't enough to change culture? (I think this one is % of workers in tech in the USA who are female?) Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 11:13
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    What is the phenomenon?! Right now we have "White women are a barrier to diversity and inclusion" - that's three abstract nouns. Guessing wildly here: does "diversity and inclusion" mean hiring people from ethnic minorities? Or making sure STEM teaching is accessible for kids with disabilities in schools? Or stopping homophobic bullying in the workplace? Etc etc. What form is this "barrier" they are claimed to be? Is it hostile attitudes? Discrimination in hiring decisions? Something to do with policies or quotas? How do you prove or disprove "Is X an abstract noun to these abstract nouns"? Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 15:48
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    @user568458 - If you are not just being pedantic, then perhaps you lack sufficient background in equality and race relations in the United States to answer this question. There are a variety of commonly-used proxies for "diversity and inclusion" (proportional representation, income disparity, etc.). I think this is outside the scope of what should be in a question; questions aren't intended to be comprehensive tutorials of everything relating to what they ask about. And again, you're asking for mechanism ("what form is the barrier") before even establishing that there is a phenomenon.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 17:13
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    I don't know why you're being so hostile. The question was put on hold by a moderator for being too broad: I'm trying to help find a way to get it opened again. If the question is, "Is there any conceivable way in which white women are any kind of barrier to any kind of diversity and inclusion", that is way too broad. There's simply no way that could be proved or disproved. Your last sentence is an answerable question (narrows it to ethnicity of staff), this isn't. Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 17:19


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