Could Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Increase Opportunities in Tech?


WASHINGTON—This year’s U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision on affirmative action, ending the use of race as a factor in college admission decisions, is an unresolved complex issue yielding many new implications. The Justices considered whether admissions systems used by Harvard College and the University of North Carolina were lawful under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

It is not yet clear how SCOTUS’ decisions to strike down affirmative action paired with invalidating student loan forgiveness will directly impact student opportunities and STEM pipelines across tech industries; however, it is extremely important to note that government agencies, corporations, small businesses, and BDPA mission partners in America have relied on institutions of higher education for decades to deliver a diverse and well-prepared digital workforce. 

BDPA Student Members and Youth Technology Camp attendees heading to their next sessions during BDPACON12 in Baltimore, Maryland.
BDPA Student Members and Youth Technology Camp attendees head to their next sessions during BDPACON12.

The High Court’s decisions may affect how high schools, community colleges, and universities approach shifting demographics and related engagement challenges.  Stronger recruitment efforts, upscaling community outreach programs, increasing scholarships, and mapping admissions processes directly to industry forecasts undoubtedly will have a greater impact on the future of our digital workforce.

The latest rulings from SCOTUS may initially harm companies’ talent acquisition efforts as colleges and universities can no longer use race as a factor in their admissions decisions. Moreover, universities have warned and documented that getting rid of affirmative action significantly impacts the diversity of their student bodies. According to Axios, efforts to increase diversity for schools that no longer use race for admissions have fallen abysmally short.  To no avail, amicus curiae briefs to uphold affirmative action were provided to the Justices with additional information from colleges, universities, and industry as an opportunity to present additional technical information with metrics.

According to Forbes, universities already started putting strategies in place earlier this year ahead of the Court’s ruling for long-term student and staffing talent acquisition adjustments. The Boston Globe reported in April that strategies, such as working more closely with community colleges and high schools in underserved areas, at least 16 schools—including Yale and MIT—have banded together in an effort aimed at recruiting more rural students.

High School Computer Competition (HSCC) Programs
National BDPA High School Computer Competition (HSCC) Programs(above) BDPA Southern Minnesota HSCC Team

To meet and exceed emerging demands from our industry, state and local appropriators will increase funding to train, staff, upskill, and equip technology programs while concurrently authorizing more community technology grants for non-profit STEM organizations.  For BDPA, these efforts have remained highly successful since 1986 and are accomplished through career day participation with local schools across all industry sectors, and interactive STEM fairs. Other programs BDPA Students and Professional Members will continue to use to pre-qualify for institutions of higher education and scholarships include, but are not limited to: trade schools, community colleges, industry certification programs [AiML, Cybersecurity, Database Management, ITSM, Project Management, SecDevOps], SROTC/JROTC participation [cybersecurity programs], Agency Internships and Fellowships,  cloud [computing] academies, data science academies, robotics academies, and annual Student I.T. Education and Scholarship (SITES) coding [application development] competitions.   

BDPA Memphis
BDPA Memphis members and SITES Alumni graduated with Computer Science degrees from the University of Memphis.

In a guest opinion essay for the New York Times, Angel B. Pérez, the chief executive of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, stated if corporations really want to ensure that colleges continue to deliver diverse arrays of graduates, they should begin a lot further upstream. Community organizations such as BDPA and public schools are upstream.  In underserved neighborhoods, these organizations continue to have profound impacts on underprivileged children’s development and readiness for both higher education and our tech industries.

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— Sources and photos: SCOTUS, BDPA, BDPA Baltimore, BDPA-DC, BETF

BDPA was founded in 1975 by the late Earl A. Pace, Jr. and the late David Wimberly as an answer to the lack of Black representation across emerging “data processing” technology fields. Formerly known as “Black Data Processing Associates”, the Association was established in Philadelphia, PA, today serves thousands around the globe, and boasts a very diverse array of members including developers, programmers, analysts, software engineers, program managers, instructors, and entrepreneurs.

BDPA’s annual national technology conference, BDPACON, stands as one of the organization’s cornerstones, embodying  its mission to promote tech career awareness, sound technical business practices, centers of excellence, and improved productivity to facilitating digital transformations and change. Within its membership, BDPA contributes added value to the lives of its members, stakeholders, and mission partners as the premier provider of quality content and community programs.

This year in Atlanta, Georgia, in what is slated to be the most highly anticipated and attended BDPACON gathering to date, attendees will enjoy a combination of new and staple events surrounding the latest technologies, innovation trends, media platforms, and technology policies.

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