I am a millennial, living in a Boston suburb, developing software for a high profile technology company, and I can’t fathom why so many of my colleagues have such different views than I do. With the recent stories of news censorship by Facebook and Twitter and corporate pressure in Georgia and North Carolina, it appears much of the tech industry has become a force of the left.
I know there appears to be an easy answer for this question, demographics. Of course they are liberal, you may say. Their workers are mostly young and urban. They reside in Northern California, Boston, and New York. How could they be anything but liberal?
That is true, but they also consist of engineers and highly skilled immigrants. They are people who have worked hard and are well compensated. While many of their peers were “studying” sociology and women’s studies they were taking computer science and engineering courses. What they learned was rooted in logic and the physical world, not rehashed Marxism and utopian fantasies.
When I was growing up in Massachusetts, it made sense that my teachers were predominantly leftist. They belonged to a union and their pay was determined by how well they could scare the town into approving ever increasing school budgets and not by how well they did their jobs. I recall a great anticipation of reaching the working world where market forces would determine success and thus people would see the inherent benefits of individual liberty and classical liberal values.
Since graduating college I’ve been a naval officer, nuclear engineer, software engineer at an older tech company, and now one that is based in the Bay Area. Until now most of my fellow employees have appeared right of center, thus confirming my expectations. That’s not to say it isn’t a great place to work, it most certainly is. However, I am at a total loss to explain its culture or the cultures of other companies of its ilk.
I have a few theories, but I am not very confident in any of them. My definition of “new tech companies” are those that have been created or risen to prominence in the last 15 years, such as Twitter or Facebook.
- The people are the same but the companies are more authoritarian. Motivated by a very competitive job market and empowered by financial success, these companies seek to engage with their employees at a new level. They encourage their employees to basically live at work, breaking down the professional and personal divide. This fosters an environment not unlike a university. Everyone must be careful not to offend and the needs of all must be accommodated at the expense of the few. The cultures of victimhood and blind acceptance find fertile soil, and people who disagree learn to keep quiet.
- Newer tech companies are more software- and web-based than their predecessors. Therefore aesthetically pleasing design is more important to the success of their products. Therefore more creatives are required and creatives trend left of center.
- College indoctrination has become so successful that it has bled into the hard sciences and engineering spaces. My fellow employees seem more liberal because they actually are more liberal.