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 "Latinos and Information Technology: The Promise and the Challenge (pfd file 563 KB)

This report, commissioned by IBM (http://www.ibm.com/ibm/ibmgives) and prepared by The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute (http://www.trpi.org), with assistance from HACU provides the first comprehensive look at the Hispanic Digital Divide, listing challenges and offering recommendations. Latinos --the fastest-growing minority population in America -- are falling behind other groups when it comes to harnessing the power of technology, and the consequences could have long-term implications. According to this report, the potential of Informational Technology has yet to be realized by Latinos who continue to trail whites and other minority groups throughout the U.S. in computer ownership, Internet use and e-commerce.

[Executive Summary]

[Hispanic Information Technology Profile]
CONTACT:

Donna Mattoon

IBMCorporate Communications

518-487-6603

mattoond@us.ibm.com



Technology is key to Latino social, economic agenda

A new report commissioned by IBM provides the first comprehensive look at the Hispanic Digital Divide, listing challenges and offering recommendations


ARMONK, NY, March 18, 2002 - America's fastest-growing minority population is falling behind other groups when it comes to harnessing the power of technology, and the consequences could have long-term implications. According to a new report commissioned by IBM, the potential of Information Technology has as yet to be realized by Latinos, who continue to trail whites and other minority groups throughout the U.S. in computer ownership, Internet use and e-commerce.

""Economic and social stability for individuals and families is inextricably linked to education and technological innovation,"" said Maria Villar, vice president of IBM e-Business Transformation Planning and co-chair of the Hispanic Digital Divide Task Force assembled by IBM to study the issue. ""For the Latino community to advance -- like all constituencies -- it can’t be on the wrong side of the digital divide.""

The report, commissioned by IBM and prepared by The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, represents the first time that the institute has assembled all data available on Latinos and Information Technology.

“National leaders, educators and policy makers now have the data necessary to draw up a comprehensive agenda that will help Latinos find their place in this important revolution,” said Harry Pachon, president of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and professor of public policy at the Claremont Graduate University.

Since 1990, the Hispanic population has more than doubled in the U.S. and now totals approximately 35 million people. Hispanics are now the largest ethnic minority in 23 of the 50 states. Nonetheless, they remain vastly under-represented in the IT workforce. And while the five fastest-growing careers in the U.S. are in computer related fields with above average earning potential, statistics indicate that only a small percentage of Latinos are now seeking degrees as engineers or technologists.

According to the report, Latinos and Information Technology: The Promise and the Challenge, the benefits of Informational Technology for the Latino community cannot be realized by the acquisition of computers alone.

“Rapid changes in technology and demographics will quickly catapult the Hispanic digital divide to the level of a national crisis if we do not act now, and act decisively,” said Antonio R. Flores, president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and a member of the IBM task force. “This divide in our homes, in our schools, and even in our colleges and universities threatens our country’s global leadership. Given the changing demographics, our country’s continued success is at stake.”

Latino children have the highest dropout rates of any major ethnic group. Even those who remain through high school are defacto dropouts from the IT workforce if they lack a strong educational background, said Stanley S. Litow, president of the IBM International Foundation and vice president of Corporate Community Relations, who commissioned the report.

The IBM report notes that parents of disadvantaged and minority students are less likely to understand the link between education and important IT opportunities for their children. In fact, the problem of Latino preparation for and participation in the technology sector is inseparable from larger and chronic issues of education and training.

""The use of computers and networked technologies can improve educational achievement and increase motivation to stay in school,"" said Carmen Varela Russo, a task force member and Chief Executive Officer of the Baltimore Public Schools. ""For adults, online classes can help individuals learn word processing skills, obtain a GED, take citizenship classes and earn a university degree. Although the statistics are important, the national dialogue on the digital divide should be focused on how technology can be more effectively used, rather than on physical access.""

Despite its early promise of becoming a global community, the world wide web is still largely based in English and lacks a true mix of cultural viewpoints. Web sites for Latinos must translate content from English to Spanish, but they must also do more by providing content that has cultural interest to address the special communities they serve. The rapidly growing number of small businesses owned by Latinos must also adapt networked technologies to their operations.

According to Victor Cabral, vice president of Government and Hispanic Affairs at Verizon Communications and co-chair of the task force, the most profound growth in the need for technology has been in business-to-business relationships. Years ago, such functions as ordering, billing, bidding, contracting or inventory management would have involved the slow exchange of paper and phone messages, he said.

""But today, these and more functions are instantaneously accomplished electronically,"" Cabral continued. ""Any business that under-utilizes network technologies is at a competitive disadvantage. Alternately, every business that develops e-commerce capability adds value to every other business on the network in the form of more efficient transactions, increased choice and lower cost information.""

""E-commerce capability is especially important to the moderate but growing number of Latino engineers and computer scientists whom might serve as a principal in an e-commerce company,"" Cabral said.

In addition to co-chairs Maria Villar and Victor Cabral, the IBM Hispanic Digital Divide Task Force includes Raul Cosio, IBM's vice president of e-Business Transformation; Ronald Blackburn-Moreno, president and CEO of ASPIRA; Antonio Flores, president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities; Luis Miranda, president of Miranda Y Más; the Hon. Silvestre Reyes (D) U.S. Representative of the 16th district in Texas; and Carmen Varela Russo, chief executive officer of the Baltimore Public Schools. "