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Communications of the Association for Information Systems

Abstract

A career in information technology (IT) presents a viable source of economic advancement for college graduates, but ethnic minority students remain underrepresented in the IT workforce. Such underrepresentation is often exacerbated by their first-generation student (FGS) status. Yet, it remains unclear what leads to FGSs’ IT career choice compared to their counterparts. To address this gap, this study aims to reveal the factors motivating FGSs to consider an IT career and examines the association of influencing factors with personal and demographic factors (gender, race, ethnicity). This qualitative research overlays capital theory and social cognitive career theory to develop an integrated sensitizing framework and draws on individual difference theory in interpreting the findings. Our analysis of the open-ended narrative responses of 193 surveys collected from a minority-serving university revealed 10 key factors influencing IT career choice. A theoretical model incorporating individual differences, generational status, and environmental influences is proposed to advance the discussion of influencing factors in IT career choice toward further theory building and empirical testing. The paper concludes with implications for motivating the IT career choice of the ethnic minority, first-generation student population.

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