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Some ex-participants criticized a key Google scheme for Black students, saying it is riddled with issues

Published by Business Insider on Mon, 22 Feb 2021

<p><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/60337e35bed5c50011a2bc3c-1779/kurani us_google howard west_finals_05_web.jpg" alt="Google Howard West" data-mce-source="James Florio" border="0"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>Participants in Google's scheme for Black college students have <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/21/google-howard-west-program-faced-disorganization-culture-clashes.html">criticized the program to CNBC</a>, describing the program as disorganized despite the underlying positive intent.</p><p>Launched in 2017 in partnership with Howard University, one of the nation's largest historically Black colleges, the Howard West program offers <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/howard-university-google-campus-2017-3" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="20" data-uri="213b0d52eac8919bc6e46799b2dd3b31">up to 30 students</a> the chance to spend their summer as Googlers.</p><p>While Google never promised recruits a job upon completion, the schemelater rebranded as Tech Exchange&nbsp;was ostensibly launched to improve diversity at the company and <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/infographic-tech-diversity-companies-compared-2017-8">within the wider tech industry</a>. In&nbsp;2016, <a href="https://www.google.com/diversity/" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="40" data-uri="ae730c995cc43681f48a0911f3057129">just 1%</a> of Google's technical engineering staff identified as Black. That figure has since risen to <a href="https://kstatic.googleusercontent.com/files/25badfc6b6d1b33f3b87372ff7545d79261520d821e6ee9a82c4ab2de42a01216be2156bc5a60ae3337ffe7176d90b8b2b3000891ac6e516a650ecebf0e3f866">around 4%</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>According to CNBC, however, more than a dozen participants complained logistics around housing and financial costs had not been clearly communicated, their instructors offered little help with obscure working material, and on one occasion a Black student was mistaken for a member of kitchen staff.&nbsp;</p><p>"There are often these assumptions by Googlers that they know how to best instruct students without taking into account the demographics," Dr. Nicki Washington, a Duke University professor who helped set up the earlier Google In Residence program, told CNBC.</p><p>One 2018 graduate of the scheme, Afeeni Phillips, recalled an incident in which a "regular Google employee" entered the campus game room and demanded students show their IDs. "We were kind of confused because he wasn't security or anything,"&nbsp;she said.&nbsp;</p><p>"It was like nobody had seen an African American person before," her peer Sarah Cooper added.</p><p>Some participants reported facing unexpected housing charges and delays in stipend payments from their respective universities, which were expected to support their students through the program, leading to financial difficulty.&nbsp;</p><p>Others said they hadn't been allowed to take part-time jobs while working at Google, resulting in students hoarding toiletries and food from the company's bathrooms and cafeteria.&nbsp;</p><p>Google told CNBC that 95% of recent program participants had given positive feedback, describing it as a "first-of-its-kind initiative."</p><p>In a statement to CNBC, a Google spokesperson said: "Since 2017, Howard University has worked with Google to build a mutually beneficial pipeline where students from diverse backgrounds can experience the industry first-hand while pursuing their education in computer science.</p><p>"Our existing partnership, Tech Exchange, creates pathways and opportunities for increased diverse representation in the STEM industry. We remain committed to improving the program and we will work with Google to ensure it continues to be a success."</p><p>Insider approached Google for further comment.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>SEE ALSO:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-australia-news-ban-battles-7-other-countries-2021-2" >Facebook took the nuclear option in Australia. It may be on a collision course with at least 7 other countries.</a></strong></p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/google-scheme-black-students-howard-west-technology-2021-2#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/candy-corn-ingredients-made-of-gelatin-lac-resin-halloween-sugar-syrup-2017-10">What candy corn is actually made of</a></p>
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