Racial and gender depictions in ILP consistent with state and national demographics

and Tu and Tucker

An analysis of the Career Cruising ILP program revealed that the career depictions are relatively consistent with racial and gender population demographics in Kentucky and the United States.

The ILP (Individual Learning Plan) is a web-based software designed to help students plan their course prerequisites, consider colleges, and explore various career options. Every year, JCPS requires students to use the program to fill out a survey indicating their personal interests and strengths. The software then helps users identify potential jobs that fit these parameters.

Two types of images accompany each selection in the software. First, each job features a slide deck of images called PhotoFiles. The PhotoFiles depict one individual at work. Additionally, each job features video interviews with two other people who hold the indicated career.

A RedEye analysis examined the representation of different races and genders in the PhotoFiles and in the interview images. The study looked at careers both based on pay (the top and bottom-paying jobs according to the Bureau of Labor statistics) and on traditional notions of gendering.

The examination revealed that, within the site, representation of all groups was consistent regardless of pay or gender association. For the PhotoFiles, 52.17% of the images depicted males, and 47.83% showed females. Whites were shown in 73.91% of the PhotoFiles, blacks in 8.70%, Asians in 8.70%, and Indians in 4.35% (see figures 2 and 6).

For the interviews, 45.83% of the images portrayed males and 53.58% showed females. Whites were shown in 78.58% of interviews, blacks in 78.58%, and Asians in 10.71%.

These numbers are relatively consistent with the population demographics for both Kentucky and for the United States at large (see figures 3, 4, 7, and 8)

According to Meredith Beyer-Allridge, project manager for the development of the ILP, Career Cruising staff members considered diversity when assembling the photos and interviews for the program.

“We have taken steps to ensure that the overall ethnic composition of our interviewees reflects the ethnic diversity of North American society,” Beyer-Allridge said. “We also strive to show diversity within each type of occupation (engineering, business, etc.)… In addition, we always strive to profile both a man and a woman for each occupation, whenever possible, in order to ensure the program is not biased to either gender.”

Jahne Brown (10, J&C) emphasized the importance of setting positive career examples for minorities.

“It seems small, but when you see someone who represents your demographic portrayed in a positive light it just adds that much more to your ideas about what you have the ability to do,” Brown said. “When I was a kid I just assumed that I could pretend to be a princess but I couldn’t really be one because none of them looked like me. When we don’t include minorities in pictures for careers we send a message, intentional or not, to students. I don’t think that keeping representation the same will be a strong argument. Overrepresentation of minorities definitely isn’t a problem because they’re so under-represented in other areas.”

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