talented women are typically endowed
with more highly developed verbal-linguistic skills than are men of similar
mathematical ability and this versatility
encourages different career choices.
finding Ways to increase
female Participation in it
Finding that differences in occupational personality appear to explain much of
the gender difference in career choice
does not mean it is impossible to increase the number of women entering
IT careers. Our discussions with focus
group participants indicated there are
important differences in how men and
women entered IT, and that these offer
a number of possible routes through
which it may be possible to address
current gender imbalances in IT.
Many of our focus group participants
felt they had “fallen into” their IT careers, coming into IT by way of another
career field. More systematic results
from our survey echo this observation.
Women in IT were significantly less
likely than men or than women in non-IT careers to say their current career
choice had been influenced by courses
they had taken in high school or their
high school teachers.
Focus group participants told us they
discovered they had a natural aptitude
for IT that led them to their current career field. Only six out of the 16 women
in the focus groups actually had computer science degrees, suggesting the
importance of maintaining multiple
routes into IT professions.
In addition, conversations with the
focus group participants emphasized
that there are many misconceptions
regarding what IT professionals actually do and that many IT jobs actually require occupational personalities
that are more common among women.
Several focus group participants mentioned they found the reality of their
IT jobs to be different from what they
had anticipated. These participants
observed that their jobs often required
them to act as a translator between the
end user and the person actually writing the program code, something that
made the job more social.
Their experiences suggest many IT
jobs can be redesigned in ways that are
more attractive to women by emphasizing the artistic, social, and conventional dimensions of the tasks they require.
there are many
women in other
skills needed to
succeed in it.
There are many women in other professions with the requisite skills needed
to succeed in IT. But recruiting them
will require careful thought about how
job responsibilities are structured and
communicated. The benefits of this effort will be a more diverse and creative
IT work force.
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4. rosenbloom, J. l., ash, r.a., Coder, l., and dupont,
b. Why are there so few women in information
technology? assessing the role of personality in
career choices. Journal of Economic Psychology 29, 4
(apr. 2008), 543–554.
5. rosenbloom, J.l., ash, r.a., dupont, b.r., and
Coder, l. examining the obstacles to broadening
participation in computing: evidence from a survey of
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member services, West lafayette, in, 1999.
LeAnne Coder ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is an assistant
professor of business at the university of Western
Joshua L. Rosenbloom ( email@example.com) is
associate Vice provost, research and graduate studies
and a professor of economics at the university of Kansas
and research associate, national bureau of economic
Ronald A. Ash ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor of business
at the university of Kansas.
Brandon R. Dupont ( email@example.com) is an
assistant professor of economics at Western Washington
this material is based upon work supported by
the national science Foundation under grant no.
0204464. any opinions, findings, and conclusions or
recommendations expressed in this material are those of
the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of
the national science Foundation.
Copyright held by author.
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