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Expanding IT's appeal

Larry Dennis, Florida State University professor

Recruiting women and minorities to IT programs has been a problem for universities and colleges throughout the U.S. To address the issue, Florida State University professor Larry Dennis helped establish a program called STARS Alliance that has made a significant impact on the numbers of women and minorities enrolling in IT programs.

“If you’re a young male that’s been working on a computer since you were 12, you’re going to do really well in an IT program,” says Dennis. “But if you haven’t been doing that, you’re going to look around and say, ‘I’m never going to be able to compete with these guys.’ So you leave.”

STARS Alliance, comprised of a network of 50 U.S universities, promotes expanded IT curriculums to include a variety of courses that focus on people skills and information management.

“And this really gives women and minorities an opportunity to shine and realize they can do this stuff,” says Dennis.

A decade ago, women and minorities made up about 15% of the students enrolled in FSU’s IT programs. Today that portion is more than 50%, Dennis says.

Read more in our March issue.

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