REDMOND, Wash. — May 29, 2008 — As many college students prepare to enter the work force, too few African-Americans, Hispanics and women will graduate with degrees that will prepare them for IT-related jobs. This situation has serious repercussions for IT companies such as Microsoft Corp. that are constantly looking to increase diversity in their work force. Today, Microsoft will host a Web conference with leading engineering and diversity experts to discuss issues IT companies are facing in creating a multicultural work force and what corporations can do to cultivate more diversity.
According to statistics reported by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), African Americans account for roughly 11 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients in computer science, with Hispanics accounting for approximately 7 percent in 2006-2007. Women only accounted for 19 percent of computing and information science undergraduate degrees in 2006-2007 (National Center for Education Statistics). NCWIT also cites Bureau of Labor Statistics predictions that computer-related occupations are among the fastest-growing occupations, adding up to 822,000 more jobs to the U.S. economy by 2016. These data show the real challenge IT companies face when striving to create a multicultural work force.
Today’s Web conference, viewed at http://www.microsoft.com/diversity and moderated by Kim Bondy, founder and president of the Bondy Group, will delve into reasons for the shortage and what can be done to increase the number of diverse employees in the IT ranks. Carl Mack, executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers(NSBE); Ali Curi, president of the Hispanic Professionals Networking Group (HPNG); Michelle Tortolani, president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE); and Kelly Chapman, director of Diversity Recruiting at Microsoft, will be featured panelists.
“The lack of diversity in the IT field presents itself not because pursuing a engineering degree is too hard and blacks and Hispanics turn away, but because too few students, of any race or ethnicity, are exposed to math and science. There is also a lack of role models in these communities attracting students to these disciplines,” Mack said. “Major IT corporations like Microsoft have to find a way to build the existing pipeline of talent by exciting students about careers in IT.”
While the numbers are daunting, Microsoft is actively engaged in efforts to reverse this trend. The company has initiated its Diversity Recruiting Initiatives Via Excellence (DRIVE) campaign to address the three major challenges of building an IT work force — building an IT pipeline, cultivating talent, and attracting and retaining qualified diverse talent. DRIVE addresses these issues by hosting programs to encourage high school and college students to pursue careers in IT, providing software grants to private and nonprofit organizations, sponsoring professional and technical organizations, and launching http://www.youatmicrosoft.com, a groundbreaking online diversity recruitment tool unveiled today.
“DRIVE is just one example of Microsoft’s commitment to be the leader in attracting minorities and women to careers in IT,” Chapman said. “With new jobs opening all across the company, our newly launched tool, youatmicrosoft.com, will prove vital in helping Microsoft recruit the best and brightest to meet our work-force needs.”
Youatmicrosoft.com is an interactive Web site that provides an inside view of what it is like to work at Microsoft. This diversity recruitment tool showcases the real-life experiences of several Microsoft employees from all walks of life. It also features a calendar of events supported by the Microsoft diversity recruitment team and employment links.
“With the number of women and minorities entering IT careers on the decline and the demand for IT professionals on the rise, IT companies must take advantage of the numerous opportunities to transform the landscape,” Tortolani said. “Diverse organizations like SWE must be supported so we can continue inspiring young people to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. At the professional level, innovative recruitment strategies must be used to attract qualified diverse candidates. Microsoft’s DRIVE campaign is exactly the type of holistic approach needed to diversify the face of IT.”
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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