Focus Point - The Phony Digital DivideCommentary by
December 15, 2000
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. "Digital Divide" is how some people describe the underrepresentation of blacks and hispanics in top technical positions, supposedly because they didn't have early Internet access. They see racism at work.
But a new American Enterprise Institute study shows high tech is one of the most ethnically diverse segments of the business world. More than one-third of the million people employed in silicon valley are foreign born.
Surveys have consistently shown that whites and asian-americans are more likely to surf the net than hispanics and blacks. Some say that's because minorities can't afford computers, but a second-hand computer doesn't cost any more than a microwave oven -- and some companies are virtually giving away PCs.
The study concludes the divide isn't due to a lack of "access," but of skills. And that problem can only be solved through educational reform and cultural change.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you next time.