Higher ed IT still struggles with diversity
- Though the field of IT in higher education has diversified during the last five years, survey data from 2015 indicates that there are still gaps in representation when it comes to age, gender and ethnicity — and only 12% are Millennials, despite that age group comprising 34% of the country’s overall workforce, according to Ed Tech: Focus on Higher Ed.
- Minority workers only represent about 15% of higher ed's IT workforce, though they also make up 34% of the country’s workforce, and their numbers jumped 5% over a five-year span from 2010 to 2015.
- The percentage of minority female CIOs in higher ed jumped from 23% to 27% between 2010 and 2015, but there was a decrease in the number of female IT managers and staff during that time, with female IT staff representation around 33% compared to 47% of the workforce.
Diversity on IT staff is important in its own right, but diverse staff members can also be a source of inspiration and emulation for STEM students of color who are embarking on paths into professions that often suffer from a lack of diversity in their own right. Tech industries have realized the problem, which is why you see companies like Intel investing heavily in historically black colleges and universities, for example. A 2015 report found that STEM fields were no more diverse than they had been 14 years prior.
This is particularly problematic when one considers that STEM professions are suffering from a coming shortage of qualified applicants. For example, Dr. Charles Clancy, the director of Virginia Tech’s Hume Center for National Security and Technology, said in an Education Dive interview that there were more cybersecurity openings in total than there were computer science graduates each year.
College administrators should seize the opportunity to partner students, particularly students of color, with IT teams, as Berkeley University has started to do. It offers students an opportunity to get some experience in practical tech applications that will greet them after graduation, and it may also offer them STEM mentors working at the higher ed institution but outside of academia. This will not solve the lack of diversity on IT teams by itself, but it could serve to boost the experience, expertise and confidence of students of color entering professional fields where they will be in the minority.
- Ed Tech: Focus on Higher Education How Diverse Is the Higher Ed IT Workforce?