The tech industry is a pipeline that HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) are collectively working to get their students into. However, a former Google employee is now highlighting that the odds continue to be stacked against them.
According to her LinkedIn, since 2014 April Christina Curley lead recruitment efforts as Google’s Tech Student Development Specialist, in Diversity. Her role included bring top HBCU talent into roles like engineering, and other projects. However, for reasons that were blamed both on she and the students, her job was not an easy one. As both a Black and queer woman, she noticed “immediately” that the atmosphere at Google was filled with micro and macro-aggressions. Curley was let go in September.
Abril took to her Twitter to chronicle her experiences in a thread.
“In 2014, I was hired at Google to fundamentally shift the relationship (or lack thereof) that Google had with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Before my role existed, Google had NEVER, and I mean f*****g NEVER hired an HBCU student into a tech role-,” she said in one of her opening tweets.
“Please read that s**t again. It’s as egregious as it sounds. At the time of my departure, I had single handedly increased Google’s black engineering hiring from HBCUs by over 300%. Meaning- I brought in over 300 Black and Brown students from HBCUs who were hired into eng [engineering] roles.”
In one tweet she shared the hostility that those in the Google hiring process had for HBCUs themselves.
“In several cases, students were questioned IN INTERVIEWS about the quality of the computer science curriculum that they were receiving at their HBCU and criticized for “not meeting the bar” compared to “elite”, white institutions,” said Curley.
However, the criticism didn’t just land on the shoulders of the students. For Curley, her work at Google was contentious because she was a minority herself. She alleges was verbally harassed for both her sexuality and even her Baltimore accent.
“My skip-level manager, a white woman, told me VERBATIM that the way I speak (oftentimes with a heavy Baltimore accent) was a disability that I should disclose when meeting with folks internally,” she said.
Amid the thousands of retweets of her story, Curley’s criticism was unfortunately met with other Google employees who co-signed on her experience.
“None of this is any surprise to me,” said user “((MarkCC))” in a tweet of support. “I worked at google for 4 years, and for 2 of those, I averaged 3 interviews per week. In all that time, not one woman or minority that I interviewed was hired. Every single time, someone would bash them in feedback, which killed their prospects.”
Even student “My_Moment95” shared that she was warned of the atmosphere at Google during a recruitment visit at her HBCU.
Historically, many founding members of HBCUs have withstood the same environment of obstacles and push-back that Curley has. Yet fortunately, those like Curley who are called to do the work advocating for HBCU students do so relentlessly, and with the knowledge that there are thousands of talented students behind them.