Google wants technology companies to become more diverse. Now, through its Google for Entrepreneurs division, the company plans to lower the cost of data science education for people from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the industry.
Google for Entrepreneurs will provide scholarships of up to $25,000 to women, minorities, and people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community who enter the first cohort of the data science master’s program from the startup Galvanize.
And the people behind Galvanize say that’s a noble cause.
“I believe super strongly that if you have ambition and aptitude, you should have the opportunity, and unfortunately, for many people, that just isn’t the case,” Jim Deters, Galvanize’s chief executive, told VentureBeat in an interview. “Our systems aren’t set up for doing that, and we’re trying to build onramps for people and working with our partners to come up with scholarships.”
It’s the sort of initiative that should be well received given how many large U.S. technology companies have come clean lately about employing more men than women and more white people than minorities. In leadership positions, these trends are even more stark. So a more diverse graduating class could help Google and other other companies meet their own stated hiring goals.
But even beyond that, data scientists remain few and far between. The new scholarship program could encourage more people to apply and eventually pursue careers in data science.
“It’s a real issue,” Mike Tamir, the head of data science at Galvanize, told VentureBeat. “It’s the HR version of a product waiting to be built.”
Of course, the scholarships can also help distinguish Galvanize as a school for learning about data science, whether it be developing features that take usage into consideration or doing deep-dive analytics. Other programs include Insight Data Science, The Data Incubator, Science to Data Science, and Data Science Retreat, not to mention university programs.
Financial assistance aside, Galvanize strives to stand out by physically bringing together technical instructors with working professionals at tech companies that are on the lookout for new talent.
“We’re building a ground-up curriculum that is moving exactly with this industry,” Deters said.
Galvanize, which recently acquired data science training startup Zipfian Academy, will begin the new program in San Francisco in January. The scholarships can be combined with standard federal financial aid.