Google expands Howard West to a full-year program to train more black engineers

Google is expanding the reach of Howard West, which began last year as a three-month residency for students at Howard University. Now, it’s going to be a full academic year and available to students from other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). In the fall of this year, 100 students from Howard and other HBCUs will participate in a nine-month immersive computer science program at Google’s headquarters.

The initial pilot program included 26 students from Howard. At the end of the three-month program, 14 students applied for software engineering internships at Google. Though, only four of them received and accepted offers.

“The pilot exceeded our expectations in many ways,” Google engineer Howard Sueing wrote in a blog post. “Students and faculty noted both the rigor and immersion in life at Google as the program’s most compelling aspects, and the Googlers involved felt there was a true exchange of knowledge, culture and understanding.”

Today, Google is 31 percent female, 2 percent black and 4 percent Latinx. Last year, Google also brought on a new VP of diversity, Danielle Brown, from Intel. Brown joined Intel in 2009 as an associate for the company’s accelerated leadership program and had been at the forefront of Intel’s diversity efforts.

In the last diversity report under Brown’s leadership, Intel reported it hit its goal of retaining diverse employees, with a 15 percent exit rate for women and people of color compared to a 15.5 percent exit rate for employees in majority groups.

Meanwhile, Google is facing a revised gender-pay lawsuit that alleges Google underpaid women in comparison with their male counterparts and asked new hires about their prior salaries. The revised lawsuit also adds a fourth complainant, Heidi Lamar, who was a teacher at Google’s Children Center in Palo Alto for four years.

The original suit was dismissed last month due to the fact the plaintiffs defined the class of affected workers too broadly. Now, the revised lawsuit focuses on those who hold engineer, manager, sales or early childhood education positions.