Friday, June 12, 2009

2008 African American Information Technology Experience

2008 African American Information Technology Experience

by: Julius Clark

This is a re-post originally featured by the BDPA Education Foundation.

I pulled these statistics from different sources to make a compelling point regarding the state of the African American Information Technology Professional in 2008. Barack Obama used the Internet to help him win the presidency like no other and has re-written the book on political campaigning.

In the U.S., 20% of all undergraduate degrees received by African Americans are Business Degrees. But in the age of information, only 3% of undergraduate degrees awarded to African Americans are in Computer Science; when technology professionals are in such a desperate demand in this country; despite the color of an individual, and despite the slowing economy.

We have a lot of work to do in influencing our children to pursue careers in technology. It can be difficult when on one end of the spectrum, Science and Technology competes with little punch against the images of athletics and entertainment, which are so dominant in the African American culture for just a small few of individuals to successfully get into.

    1. Community - African American children have made strives and the digital divide is narrowing in our community, but we need to stop boring our brightest children to death with continued basic computer literacy. They need to be taught how to solve problems with computers and the Internet.

    2. Academia/ College
      • African Americans represent 13-14% of the American Population, but only represent 3% of BS degrees awarded in Computer Science. This could change if we emphasize early to kids to use computers to solve problems.

      • Only 1% of PhD degrees are earned by African Americans this year and each year in the near future. People with the PhDs get money to research problems. The problem here is that our community has lots of problems, yet only 1% of African Americans with PhDs are qualified as researchers at universities to seek the funding to research solutions for our communities problems. This is not an efficient problem solving method.

    3. IT Professional
      • Only 3% of Information Technology jobs are held by African Americans. Hmmm... this number is the same as BS degrees awarded to African Americans.

      • African American IT professionals are making 85.9 cents to every dollar of our white computer Professionals. Last year we made 86.4 percent; we lost some ground.

      • One identified gap for the salary lag: "intangibles" -- subjective factors that determine where in the compensation range an individual falls. The building of trusted relationships that enables people to reach the higher end of the subjective range apparently hasn't strengthened in the past year and is disappointing.

      • Whites saw a 3.4% compensation increase from last year, compared with 2.7% for African Americans, the lowest increase for any ethnicity

    4. 2008 Computerworld Salary Survey - Click here to the survey

    5. Heartening Discoveries -
      • African American children are addicted to computers and the Internet and want to be challenged more. Let's not bore or ignore them.

      • When asked how satisfied they were with their decision to pursue an IT career, 89.3% of African Americans said they were satisfied or very satisfied. That's the highest percentage of support for the career path voiced by any ethnicity, including whites, at 84.5%. Hey, we love what we do!!

    6. eCommerce - In 2008 African Americans made up 11.8% of all Internet purchases. Very high numbers here and they are rising. We need to get more African American students interested in Computer Science and get some of this eCommerce money.
    7. My Final Thoughts - An Information Technology career is the best return on investment for your money and time. The satisfaction rate of African Americans in IT demonstrate our perseverance as a people in the wake of continuing disparities. I welcome the future with hopeful feelings. Let's keep it with the "Change We Need" and "From the Classroom to the Boardroom" mantras. Go BDPA Information Technology Thought Leaders!!!

      Championing the cause,
      Julius Clark, President-Elect
      BDPA Charlotte Chapter

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