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Gender Differences in College Students’ Perceptions of Technology-Related Jobs in Computer Science

Joseph Appianing, Richard N Van Eck

Abstract


Demand for computer technology (CT) professionals continues to rise, yet the supply of related majors is insufficient to meet demand. As with science, engineering, and mathematics (technology’s STEM field siblings), women’s participation in CT fields is abysmally low. While there are many junctures in the “leaky pipeline” for women and STEM careers, college is one of the important pathways to recruit women into CT fields. Wigfield and Eccles’ (2000) expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation provides a valuable framework for examining factors that impact women’s decisions to pursue CT majors, but no validated survey instruments exist for doing so. A questionnaire (Value, Interests, and Expectations for Success, or VIES) was developed to measure college students’ perceptions of CT fields. The VIES was administered to 184 college students at a large public research university in the Midwestern United States. The VIES was found to be valid and reliable, and statistically significant differences were found between males and females on all of the VIES subscales. Female students placed less value on and had lower expectations for success in CT fields. They also had lower personal interest in pursuing advanced studies in CT, and value was the most predictive factor in explaining interest in pursuing a CT degree.


Keywords


Gender and technology; perceptions of computer technology; ICT; IT

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