The university CIO position has never been very racially diverse, but a new study by Dr. Wayne A. Brown paints a vivid picture of the position's racial homogeny.
According to the report, “2013 Study of the Higher Education Chief Information Officer Roles and Effectiveness”—part of a 10-year project Brown conducted using the Qualtrics platform—a staggering 93% of CIOs in America's colleges and universities are white.
“I don't know what the problem is or why it's like that, but it's never been good,” says Brown. “[The number of minority CIOs] has always been single digits—low single digits, 5 to 7%.”
Between 1990 and 2004, the percentage of minority CIOs in higher ed rose five points, from 2% to 7%, and it has remained mostly unchanged since. At 5%, Asians make up the largest number of minority CIOs, followed by African-Americans at 3% and American Indians or Alaska Natives at 1%. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders don't even register a single percentage point.
Most notably, the percentage of Hispanic CIOs dropped from a high of 3% in 2010 to only 1% in 2013. “There could be something going on there, but it's such a small group that it's hard to say,” says Brown.
By comparison, 19% of higher education executive, administrative, and managerial positions are held by minorities, with 13% of four-year college presidents being non-white.
A wave of CIO retirements is expected over the next decade—with 50% of male CIOs and 47% of females saying they plan to do so—and though those retirements are expected to create a possible boom in female CIOs, how they affect the position's racial diversity remains to be seen. A majority 92% of university technology leaders responding to the study were white, and those positions are traditionally regarded as the pipeline to becoming university CIO.
“Anecdotally, before I started asking this question, I looked around,” says Brown. “I'd go to Educause or places like that, and you could just tell it was a very white group—older white male. This just confirmed it for me.”
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