Andean indigenous in digital society must be more than software users

In a recent article, researchers present an exploratory study that aims to understand how Andean indigenous people made the jump from a group that is woefully underrepresented in software industry to professionals in that same field.

Jorge Apugllon has providing this illustration. It is a pen and watercolour painting called “Runa Tech”.

A digital society can connect people, communities and things to the internet like never before. In fact, digital technology runs like a backbone in our society, and in turn, software is part of any digital technology. With an increasing demand of software in our society, a shortage of software engineers and developers have emphasized the absence of women and other underrepresented minorities such as Black, Latin American and Indigenous people. In addition, homogenous teams, with similar worldviews, have overlooked or exacerbated design flaws for a part of society that are underrepresented on their teams, for example, indigenous communities. Therefore, software development teams should be more diverse.

In this study, we focus on the factors influencing Software Engineering career choice of Andean indigenous. Despite that there are theoretical approaches to explain and predict general and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) career choices, person-centered analysis through qualitative approaches is still necessary to identify the factors that shape career choice of underrepresented minorities. The findings reveal seven factors: social support, exposure to digital technology, autonomy of use, purpose of use, digital skill, identity, and work ethic.

A diverse workforce is not just "nice to have". Beyond the economic standpoint (shortages of professionals), a social perspective sheds light on root cause of diversity crisis in software industry and the issues of bias in the software it builds, “issues of discrimination”. Therefore, software, digital technology, and our digital society at large should not reproduce bias and should not replicate and/or amplify existing structures of inequality in society.

The authors are Mary Sánchez-Gordón (Associate professor) and Ricardo Colomo-Palacios (Full Professor) who are part of the Information Systems and Software Engineering (ISSE) research group at Østfold University College, Norway.

Both authors would like to thank to Jorge Apugllon for providing the illustration at the beginning of this article. It is a pen and watercolour painting called “Runa Tech”.

You can read more about this study in the article: Factors influencing Software Engineering Career Choice of Andean Indigenous (ACM Digital Library)

Published June 22, 2021 11:27 AM - Last modified June 22, 2021 1:56 PM