When the venture capitalist Peter Thiel began offering young people $100,000 to forego college in favor of coding or other scientific and technical pursuits, he helped kick off a debate about the pros and cons of the college-free path. Now one entrepreneur’s efforts are raising another question: whether encouraging kids to bypass college will actually improve diversity in the tech world, or whether it will hurt women and people of color.
At Fast Company, Elizabeth Segran reports on “Change the Ratio,” a program developed by the online coding school Treehouse to help girls prepare for tech jobs. “While organizations like Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code have sprung up to fight the gender gap in the tech sector,” she writes, “Treehouse’s C.E.O., Ryan Carson, has a unique take: Borrowing a page from the Peter Thiel playbook, he advocates for middle and high school-aged girls to skip college and get real-world job skills instead.” She quotes him:
“We think there is absolutely no need to get a college degree. Employers are disinterested in whether you have a degree or your skin color or your sex. It’s just a question of, ‘Can you do it?’”
Not everyone agrees that tech employers really hire based on talent alone. At NPR, Elise Hu writes: “One of the most prevalent defenses against claims of gender bias and sexism in the tech industry is that Silicon Valley is a meritocracy, where the smartest, most skilled engineers and the best ideas rise to the top. Following this logic, the people with the most merit just happen to be almost all white men. The reality is far more complex.” <Read more.>