Cultivating Cultural diversity
in information Technology
Introducing CMD-IT, a new center focused on synergistic activities
related to ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.
The FieLd oFinformation tech- nology has had a major im- pact on society.a A panel of eight judges from the Whar- ton School at the University
of Pennsylvania recently identified
20 top innovations from the past 30
years; half were tied to the field of IT
(examples include the Internet, mobile phones, email, microprocessors,
office software, and Internet-based
social networking). 2 Given the significant impact of computing on society,
it is important that all cultures, especially underrepresented cultures,
are fully engaged in the field to ensure that everyone benefits from the
advances in computing. The lack of
cultural diversity is especially evident
with respect to the following ethnic
groups—African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans—as well as
people with disabilities. CMD-IT was
developed to focus on ethnic minorities and people with disabilities for
which the link across these different
communities is that of understanding a particular culture.
The demographics of the field’s
faculty shape the demographics of
the student population. 6 African
Americans comprise 1.3% of the faculty in IT, but make up 12% of the
U.S. population; Hispanics comprise
1.7% of the faculty in IT, but make
a The term “information technology” includes
computing, computer science, computer engineering, and other specific subspecialties.
Ethnicity of Current IT Faculty
%U.S. Population7 Current IT Faculty1
1. 6 Multiracial, not Hispanic 0.1
15.0 Resident Hispanic, any race 1. 7
Alaska Native 0.6
American Indian or
3. 6 Asian 20. 6
12.0 Blackor African- American1.3
69.0 White 66. 2
0.1 Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 1. 3
Current IT faculty data from the CRA Taulbee Report, U.S. population data from the U. S. Census Bureau.
up 15%, of the U.S. population. 1, 7,b By
2020, ethnic minorities are projected
to constitute almost 32% of the U.S.
population. 7 People with disabilities
comprise 18% of the U.S. population
aged five years and older, but the per-
b The data from the CRA Taulbee Survey focuses
on computer science and computer engineering, but the numbers are representative of the
broader IT field.
centage of such people in the IT field
is far lower. 7 A diverse student population requires a diverse faculty for
many reasons, including incorporation of diverse perspectives in development of student programs and cur-ricula that are engaging to students
from all groups.
Culture is manifested in practices
that emerge from prolonged participation within specific communities. 5