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Communications of the ACM

Broadening participation

African Americans in the U.S. Computing Sciences Workforce

Troy Hill from Winston Salem State University

Troy Hill, from Winston Salem State University, won first place in the Robotics Simulation Competition at ARTSI Robotics Competition at the 2014 Tapia Conference.

Credit: iAAMCS

Broadening participation in computing has received a great deal of media coverage recently on diversity challenges in Silicon Valley.2,8 Major Silicon Valley technology companies, including Dell and Intel, have released employment data and the lack of diversity has caused many to question their commitment.2 For example, Intel has committed $300 million over the next five years to improve the company's workforce diversity.8 As employment data is released for the technology workforce in Silicon Valley and other technology hubs, an important question emerges: How are Ph.D.-granting computing departments doing regarding the representation of African Americans? In this column, we examine efforts to increase Ph.D. and faculty production for African Americans in computing sciences through the work of a new project funded by the National Science Foundation—Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences (iAAMCS, pronounced "i am c s"). The data presented in this column is from the Computing Research Association (CRA) Taulbee Survey (see and the NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) Tabulation Engine (

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African American Ph.D. and Faculty Production Landscape

Table 1 contains data from 2003 to 2013 on computer sciences (CS) Ph.D. production for African Americans from the CRA Taulbee Survey and the NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates that uses data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). Taylor and Ladner7 first reported differences in the CRA Taulbee Survey data and the WebCASPAR data. Therefore, this column will use data from both sources with respect to Ph.D. production to show the contrast. Both datasets show an increase in the raw number of African American CS Ph.D.'s produced; however, the total percentage distribution among Ph.D.'s has not changed much. There is at least a 50% increase in the raw number of Ph.D.'s produced, but the total percentage distribution remains relatively flat. Clearly, the overall CS Ph.D. production has increased at a rate that limits increases in the percentage. However, does this increase in overall CS Ph.D. production among African Americans result in an increase in African American faculty?


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