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Undergraduate Researcher Awarded "Best Presentation” at UCIS

Abstract:
The problem addressed in this paper is that African American males are the lowest represented race and gender in the Information Technology (IT) field. This problem of under-representation is important because a diverse IT workforce is essential for developing the nation’s technological innovation, economic vitality, and global competitiveness. The exclusion of African American males must be resolved to ensure diversity is met in this growing market. Despite the bleak numbers of African American males in IT there are still those that succeed in graduating from a university majoring in IT and entering the workforce. The goal of this paper is to determine the strategies that these successful African American males use in their IT profession and then develop from those strategies a method to increase the number of African American males in IT. The Digital Inequality theory created by Paul DiMaggio and Eszter Hargittai is used as a theoretical framework to determine and exploit the known causes of digital inequality for minorities. This theory describes five constructs of inequality in technology: inequality of equipment, skill, social support, purpose of technology and autonomy of use. The methodology of this paper includes interviews of 25 African American males majoring in IT related fields from Howard University, Southern University, and Dillard University, three Historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCU). The results of this paper concluded that one of the five constructs of the Digital Inequality theory, autonomy of use was no longer relevant in the theory. It was also discovered that two new constructs, work ethic and IT career exposure, had become applicable to the theory of Digital Inequality.