CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Steven Terrell

Committee Member

Gertrude W Abramson

Committee Member

Nicholas DiTirro

Abstract

The computing profession in the United States would benefit from an increasingly diverse workforce, specifically a larger female presence, because a more gender-balanced workforce would likely result in better technological solutions to difficulties in many areas of American life. However, to achieve this balance, more women with a solid educational foundation in computing need to enter the computing workplace. Yet a common problem is most colleges and universities offering computer-related degrees have found it challenging to attract females to their programs. Also, the women who begin a computing major have shown a higher tendency than men to leave the major. The combination of these factors has resulted in a low percentage of females graduating with a computing degree, providing one plausible explanation for the current gender imbalance in the computing profession.

It is readily apparent that female enrollment and retention must be improved to increase female graduation percentages. Although recruiting women into computing and keeping them in it has been problematic, there are some who decide to pursue a computer-related degree and successfully finish. The study focused on this special group of women who provided their insight into the pursuit and completion of an undergraduate computing degree. It is hoped that the knowledge acquired from this research will inspire and encourage more women to consider the field of computing and to seek an education in it. Also, the information gathered in this study may prove valuable to recruiters, professors, and administrators in computing academia. Recruiters will have a better awareness of the factors that direct women toward computing, which may lead to better recruitment strategies. Having a better awareness of the factors that contribute to persistence will provide professors and administrators with information that can help create better methods of encouraging females to continue rather than leave. The investigation used a sequential explanatory methodology to explore how a woman determined to pursue an undergraduate computing major and to persevere within it until attaining a degree.

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