Startup seeks to improve diversity in tech

Global Business

Statistics show the percentages of men, women and minorities working in the tech sector haven’t changed much. One Silicon Valley company believes intelligent machines can help eliminate bias.

CGTN’s Mark Niu has more.

Based on statistics, Kimberly Schwartz is the kind of student who might find it tougher to get hired in Silicon Valley. She’s got the right qualifications; student at one of the world’s top universities, Berkeley and internships at both Facebook and Apple. But she’s part-Latina, part-German, part-Chinese, a woman, and undocumented.

“There’s a huge lack of diversity and we don’t really see Latinos,” Schwartz says, “The Latinos we see are the ones working in the kitchen or cleaning services, so it’s very important to see someone like yourself very successful.”

“When we say the modern workforce, we include women. We include a much more diverse population,” Gomez said.

Gomez founded Atipica to help recruiters hire more people based on merit. Atipica’s technology uses artificial intelligence to detect bias in the hiring process.

For Gomez, this is personal as well as professional. She grew up undocumented and so did her product manager, Rubi Sanchez, who only found out she was undocumented after becoming a finalist for a Gates Foundation Millennium scholarship and didn’t have the documentation to show she qualified. Sanchez went on to found her own medical tech startup. She’s excited about Atipica’s potential.

“More and more I talked to Laura and she gave me all this data. And right now tech is not merit-based. There’s a lot of bias, and so to be able to help with that I think is really amazing,” Sanchez said.

Atipica’s data scientist says from the very start, their research discovered huge disparities in terms of gender and ethnicity on who was applying to tech companies and who was getting hired. They say the key reason is implicit bias from company processes and their hiring managers.

“Now, diversity is going to be an important thing for me going forward. I think working here was the reason that was brought out. I never particularly thought about the issue as much before I came here. And I’m only one person, but at the very least no matter what happens here, hope Laura always knows that she made this impact on me and in my life,” Vineet Abraham, Atipica data scientist said.

Atipica recently raised $2 million, in what’s believed to be the largest round of seed funding ever for a Latina-run tech company.

Interview with Atipica Founder, Laura Gomez

Atipica’s founder Laura Gomez is also one of the driving forces behind Project Include, an open community, working toward diversity solutions for tech companies. CGTN’s Mark Niu sat down with Gomez, and they began by discussing how her growing up as an undocumented immigrant, inspired her work.