As children, when we think about what we want to be when we grow up, the sky is often the limit: Musician, astronaut, professional athlete, president. Some attain these heights. Most, as we mature, begin to look around for role models and examples in our community to emulate. One need only lift the door on roughly every third garage in Silicon Valley to see this pattern play out. For that reason, amid a bevy of findings in a new nationwide survey of African-Americans and their engagement with wireless technology for economic empowerment, one sobering statistic stands alone: A full half of respondents say they do not know a single person in their community who works in the technology industry.
“African-Americans are among the most active and engaged consumers of wireless technology, over-indexing in both smartphone adoption and mobile internet usage.”
Thanks to pioneering work by the Pew Research Center, we have known for years that African-Americans are among the most active and engaged consumers of wireless technology, over-indexing in both smartphone adoption and mobile internet usage. But we also know that African-Americans lag far behind in terms of participation in the $548 billion and seven million jobs mobile innovation contributes each year to the U.S. economy.
This new survey, conducted by Brilliant Corners for Mobile Future, breaks fresh ground by engaging the African-American community directly to better understand why this opportunity gap persists, and what concrete actions can help turn things around.
According to the White House, 99 percent of the country now has access to advanced 4G LTE wireless connectivity. Yet our survey begins with a dead-air disconnect: Despite African-Americans’ enthusiastic embrace of wireless technology as a consumer tool, a clear majority (59 percent) have little or no interest in mobile as a potential job, entrepreneurial or other economic opportunity.
The biggest game-changer? Those who know someone who works in the technology sector are 33 percent more likely to express interest in a mobile technology career, and 56 percent more likely to be open to being a wireless entrepreneur. Simply put, if they can see it, then they are far more likely to want to be it.