Members of both chambers of Congress on Monday launched a bipartisan caucus aimed at getting more women, minorities and veterans into the tech sector.
The eight leaders of the new Diversifying Technology Caucus said that the effort will work with the startup advocacy group Engine to push for greater inclusiveness and diversity in the industry, which has been criticized for being overly male, white and Asian-American.
“If our country’s tech industry is going to stay at the cutting-edge, we have to enlist the creativity and ingenuity of all Americans,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), one of the caucus leaders, said in a statement.
The new caucus “will bring together lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, along with researchers and academics, to shape policy that will help increase diversity in the industry and move our economy forward,” she added.
Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) are also chairing the caucus, as are Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.).
Tech companies have been playing defense for months over charges that Silicon Valley and other industry hubs are too homogenous. At Google, for instance, just 2 percent of the workforce is African-American, and 30 percent is female.
"For America to remain a leader in the innovation economy, we need to make sure that everyone can participate in the tech community regardless of race or gender," McMorris Rodgers said.
In coming weeks, the new caucus will aim to combat that trend by studying the issues, intensifying focus on specific obstacles and forming a congressional advisory council of “tech-friendly” staffers from across the Capitol.