Research

Baby Boomer Retirements Could Open up More Diversity in College IT Leadership

Demographics of jobs held in higher education IT that could lead to the position of CIO

Demographics of jobs held in higher education IT that could lead to the position of CIO. Source: "Diversity in Higher Education Information Technology: From Today's Workforce to Tomorrow's Leaders" from CUPA-HR.

A human resources association that serves the higher education segment has predicted a shift in the demographics of the IT workforce at colleges and universities in the United States. While IT in that segment is still "overwhelmingly White and male," a wave of baby boomer retirements could open up leadership opportunities to a "younger, more diverse generation," according to a study by CUPA-HR.

Currently, a report on the findings stated, more than four in five IT people (81 percent) are White and almost three-quarters (74 percent) are male. The jobs they hold encompass some 50 different roles, from the top of the organization (CIO or IT officer) to the bottom (such as computer operations technician or tech support). Minorities hold 12 percent of IT administrator positions, 21 percent of IT professional roles and 26 percent of IT staff jobs. Black and Latinx women are the least-represented demographics in higher ed IT, making up just 3 percent of all IT jobs (and half a percent of IT administrative posts).

What could change, however, is that 43 percent of current school IT administrators are over the age of 55; 39 percent have held their current roles for more than 10 years. As these "older and long-serving IT leaders" begin retiring, specific positions that are primed to move into those leadership roles show a higher representation of women and minorities. For example, more women than the average hold jobs as head of IT information management and head of IT user services.

If higher ed is going to follow through on improving diversity, equity and inclusion, the report emphasized, "the time to begin succession planning is now."

"While there are decent numbers of women and/or minorities in the IT pipeline who are qualified to be promoted to leadership, college and university IT leaders must take deliberate action to intentionally identify and promote them," said Adam Pritchard, senior survey researcher at CUPA-HR and lead author of the report, in a statement.

"Diversity in Higher Education Information Technology: From Today's Workforce to Tomorrow's Leaders" is openly available on the CUPA-HR website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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