Perceived barriers to African Americans and Hispanics seeking information technology careers
Clive Keith Houston-Brown, University of La Verne, United States
University of La Verne . Awarded
Purpose. The purpose of this study was to identify the barriers African-American and Hispanic IT (information technology) specialists perceived as resulting in their ethnicities being underrepresented in technology related careers in public institutions of higher education; identify the perceived barriers from the viewpoint of IT administrators who hire IT specialists; examine differences in perceived barriers between the groups; and examine differences based on ethnicity, gender, age, and educational level.
Methodology. Descriptive and ex post facto research were used. E-mails were sent to 3,054 IT professionals at public institutions of higher education in California inviting them to self-identify their eligibility to participate in the study. Of these, 268 correctly self-identified their eligibility to participate and completed the web-based survey instrument. Over 62 percent of these (168) were minorities.
Findings. Major findings indicated: cost, limited exposure to technology, and inadequate educational preparation/career counseling are leading barriers to African Americans and Hispanics seeking IT careers; lack of like-ethnicity mentors can be a barrier; IT administrators' perceptions of barriers are significantly different than those of African-American and Hispanic specialists; peer/family pressure and the “nerdy” image are not considered barriers; African Americans perceive greater barriers to seeking IT careers than Hispanics; age plays the biggest differentiating role among the specialists, and; women perceive limited career counseling and racial prejudice in the IT field as greater barriers than do men.
Conclusions and recommendations. The study concluded with seven recommendations: (1) provide minorities with equal access to technology in schools and use it to enhance “higher order thinking skills”; (2) enlist like-ethnicity IT professionals as mentors to minority students; (3) develop career counseling programs targeting African Americans and Hispanics; (4) implement financial aid programs/incentives for African Americans and Hispanics seeking IT careers; (5) make special efforts to engage, mentor, educate, and prepare African-American and Hispanic women to enter the IT field; (6) encourage organizations to re-train minority employees for IT positions; (7) educate IT administrators on cultural diversity/sensitivity issues.
Houston-Brown, C.K. Perceived barriers to African Americans and Hispanics seeking information technology careers. Ph.D. thesis, University of La Verne.
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