A Deep Dive on Code Switching


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Code-switching, or changing behaviors to match what is expected in any given environment, is a common (and often automatic) way of adjusting our behaviors to fit in with the people around us.

Our research found that code-switching in the tech world is nearly universal, 89 percent of non-Black tech professionals and 97 percent of Black tech professionals said they code-switched at least sometimes in their career. However, our research identified that Black tech talent are more frequently code-switching in aspects deeply related to their identity, which elicits many questions about the way authentic “blackness” is received in the industry. In particular, Black tech professionals are more than three times as likely as their non-Black peers to frequently avoid sharing personal details about their life and/or background, frequently keep work and personal friends separate, frequently change their hairstyles to be more “acceptable”, frequently bring food to the office that is more mainstream, and frequently use an abbreviated name or nickname as a result of their race and ethnicity.

% of tech professionals code-switching in the stated way "frequently"

% agreement that

Base: n=307 Black technology professionals, n=71 non-Black technology professionals 

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Shaping the Future of Leadership for Black Tech Talent