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Understanding Career Choice of African American Men Majoring in Information Technology


A diverse workforce is essential for developing the nation’s technological innovation, economic vitality, and global competitiveness. Yet, the under-representation of women, Latinos and African Americans has persisted in the field. In this study, we focus on African American male undergraduates majoring in information technology (IT). Despite the bleak numbers of African American males in IT there are still those who persist and graduate from a university and enter the workforce. To gain insights into those who do persist, we used a digital inequality framework to inform a qualitative study of undergraduates at two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). We conducted interviews with 20 African American males to uncover factors that contribute to their choice to pursue an IT major. The findings reveal that the five constructs from this framework (technical apparatus, digital skill, social support, autonomy of use, and purpose of use) in addition to two new constructs (work ethic and IT career exposure) help to explain how and why African American males choose IT majors. The study contributes to the limited literature on African American men's academic success, and helps to clarify some of the mixed and contradictory findings about their career choices that exist in the current literature.

Fuller, K., Kvasny, L., Trauth, E. M., & Joshi, K. D. (2015, June). Understanding Career Choice of African American Men Majoring in Information Technology. In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM SIGMIS Conference on Computers and People Research (pp. 41-48). ACM.

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