Ed Tech Research

Diversity Lacking in K–12 Technology Leadership

Across all K–12 institutions in the United States, public and private, 93 percent of technology leaders are white, and 72 percent are male.

According to the latest K-12 IT Leadership Survey Report, released this week by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) in association with the Ed-Fi Alliance, Forecast5 and MDR, that’s in stark contrast to the populations those leaders serve. Overall, the student population is 49 percent white, 15 percent black and 26 percent Hispanic. Just 1 percent of IT leaders in K–12 are black, and 2 percent are Hispanic.

“The lack of minorities in leadership positions is a pervasive problem across all public and private institutions, including the K-12 sector,” according to the report. “The ethnic and racial diversity of IT Leaders continues to look very different from the population they serve.”

The report also noted a widening gender gap among IT leaders. In 2016 and 2017, 36 percent of K–12 technology leaders were women. That dropped to 30 percent in 2018 and slid further to 28 percent this year.

Where do technology leaders come from?

  • 42 percent of both male and female K–12 tech leaders come from an education/instruction background;

  • 42 percent of male and just 18 percent of female leaders come from a tech background;

  • 38 percent of female and just 12 percent of males come from a business/management background.

The report’s authors noted: “The decline in female representation in leadership positions may suggest that retiring IT Leaders are being replaced from industry, where there are fewer women in executive roles to pull from, or simply that more men are now applying/being recruited for these positions. Historically, K-12 IT leader talent was promoted from district instructional leadership, which is predominately female.”

Other characteristics of K–12 technology leaders include:

  • About two-thirds (64 percent) have at least a master’s degree, with 10 percent holding doctorates;

  • 25 percent plan to retire within the next six years;

  • 60 percent have been in their current position for six or more years, with 21 percent at 11–20 years and 10 percent at 20 or more years; and

  • Most (59 percent) report to the superintendent.

The results were released at CoSN’s annual conference, taking place this week in Portland, OR. The complete report is freely available at cosn.org.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrnagel/ .