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Diversity in IT Jobs - NextGov

Several demographic groups remained underrepresented in the federal workforce in fiscal 2009, according to a new report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The report, released Monday, found that the participation rate of women, Hispanics or Latinos, men and women of two or more races and white women remained below their overall availability in the national civilian labor force. In particular, the participation rate for women fell slightly from 2008, from 44.13 percent to 44.06 percent. In 2009, 7.9 percent of federal workers were Hispanic or Latino, 65.6 percent were White, 19 percent were Black of African American, 5.8 percent were Asian, 0.3 percent were Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, 1.7 percent were Indian/Alaska native, and 0.7 percent were persons of two or more races, the EEOC found.

In addition, the annual General Schedule grade for women remained at 9.3 ($43,679 per annum), more than one grade below the average grade level for men of 10.4 ($49,604 per annum), the report states.

According to the recent Net Generation report, which the federal CIO Council issued in June under leadership from Defense Department Deputy Chief Information Officer Dave Wennergren, diversity within the information technology workforce at large has remained a key issue. Since most federal IT jobs require a college degree, many experts have looked at the role college education trends and workplace attitudes play in achieving gender and racial/ethnic diversity within the IT workforce.

In particular, while more women have earned degrees than men since the 1980s -- a trend that's expected to continue - significant gender differences exist in the number of women obtaining bachelor's degrees in computer and information sciences and computer engineering. "While industry can often hire scientists, engineers and technologists from other countries to fill talent gaps, the tightening U.S. labor market will be further constrained for federal agencies by the gender gap in IT education," the report states.

Further, projected campus diversity between 2006 and 2017 includes a 39 percent increase in Hispanic enrollments, a 26 percent increase in both African American and Asian enrollments, and a 5 percent increase in white enrollments, the CIO Council found. African Americans and Hispanics are currently underrepresented on college campuses, and Hispanics are particularly underrepresented in IT majors.

"Research shows that female and ethnic/racial minority interest in science and math skill areas may wane as early as sixth grade, presenting a challenge to those federal organizations and academic institutions actively seeking to improve gender and minority representation," the report states.

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