April 26, 2021
The Stanford Tech History Project released an extensive report on how Stanford’s tech ecosystem has changed over the last decade. The report also proposes over 40 recommendations for maintaining Stanford’s status as a top innovation and engineering hub, increasing diversity and inclusion in tech at Stanford, and creating more technology with ethics and the public interest in mind.
The report documents how student interest in computer science and tech grew rapidly over the past decade. Likewise, it shows how recruitment for tech-related jobs increased, and how career fairs became more accessible to smaller tech companies. The report shares numerous statistics about how diversity increased among CS students, especially for women, but less so for CS faculty. It describes how Stanford’s grassroots startup culture became more institutionalized, and how the ethical and societal implications of tech became a larger focus across Stanford. Finally, the report describes the growing concerns sparked by Stanford’s close ties with Silicon Valley, as well as the lack of transparency that prevented the project from scrutinizing many potential conflicts of interest.
“Stanford’s tech ecosystem grew and changed significantly in the last decade, and we believed it was vital to preserve that history,” said project co-director Nik Marda ’21 M.S. ’21, who is also co-president of the Stanford Public Interest Technology Lab. “We hope our data, analysis, and recommendations will inform future decision-making around tech at Stanford.”
The report includes analysis of original datasets about tech recruiting at Stanford, as well as in-depth case studies about Stanford’s venture capital scene and the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI). It also includes results from two surveys, which collectively captured the tech-related experiences and sentiments of over 1,000 undergraduate students.
The project was a collaboration between over 60 students, who were coordinated by a group of 13 student leaders with expertise in different parts of Stanford’s tech ecosystem. These leaders included a co-president of the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES), a former co-director of Treehacks, a president of the Stanford Society of Latinx Engineers, and an ASSU Undergraduate Senator. Over the past nine months, this team collectively analyzed over 50 datasets and interviewed over 80 people.
“Students from a variety of backgrounds contributed to this report, making it possible to cover a topic of such a broad scope,” said project co-director Julia Ingram ’21, who previously served as editor-in-chief of The Stanford Daily. “We were honored to work with so many incredible people, and we hope this report leads to more conversations about Stanford’s tech ecosystem.”
The project was advised by Dr. Michael Bernstein ’06 M.S. ’06, Dr. Mehran Sahami ’92 M.S. ’93 Ph.D. ’99, and Dr. Ruth Starkman. It was supported by a generous grant from the Stanford Ethics, Society, and Technology Hub. We also thank Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service, which provided supplemental funding through a grant from the Public Interest Technology University Network.