Are Asians Really a Minority in Software?

Recently I received an email from Shopify that said this:

We will also be looking to spotlight developers from underrepresented communities during our upcoming Belonging Campaigns, which help us celebrate the contributions to the industry from developers who identify as Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, and women. If you or another developer you know would like to be engaged, let us know!

As an Asian (Indian), that got me thinking. My first thought was that we are not underrepresented among developers. It made me look up demographics of software engineers:


At 31%, we are well represented in the software field. Then I started to think of famous Asians in Tech in the US. That made me think of the CEOs of Google, Microsoft, and NVidia. That prompted me to look a bit deeper at demographics. Are Asians reaching the top an exception or the norm? As someone getting up there, am I an exception?

Here is what the career progression of a Software Engineer looks like:

Here are what demographics look like across the entire career spectrum:

So as you look at demographics, up the software career chain, Asians take a big hit and it becomes evident that we see the minority effect on promotions.

As an immigrant, I think some of it might be related to stupid immigration laws where Asians get stuck in the queue, often for as much as a decade, and get stuck with the same employer, sometimes in the same job. That makes it easy to be taken advantage of. I also feel that culturally Asians are the least whiny, hardest workers making moving them into management a larger hit to work getting done. However, some of it might just be related to the standard treatment of minorities. How those factors affect it and what other factors are involved, I can’t really say.

From Software Engineer to CTO, Asians see a 77% drop compared to 27% for Black people and 4% for Hispanic people. So it is obvious that it is a problem and it is worse for Asians than anyone else.

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