Women's Persistence in Computer Science: A Longitudinal Qualitative Study
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This study examined the factors underlying women's persistence in computer science. Fifteen women who received a computer science bachelor's degree from a major research university in the Pacific Northwest were longitudinally studied using a qualitative study format. The study design consisted of a series of interviews and observations during the women's senior year of college and a career interview four to five years later. The effects of sponsorship and stereotype threat on the participants' initial decision to study computer science and their experiences as computer science majors were explored, as well as the ways in which these women's undergraduate experiences influenced their post-college career pathways. The results indicate that sponsorship had a significant positive impact on the women's initial matriculation in the computer science major and that stereotype threat was prevalent but not a deterrent to the women's study of computer science, at times even acting as a motivating force. The women often encountered issues with self-confidence in college and in the workplace; personal motivation, conversely, helped them to persist, both in college and in the workplace. When they embarked on computer science-related careers, the women frequently contended with gendered expectations of behavior in the workplace, in both academic and corporate settings. Understanding women's experiences with computer science, both in college and in their subsequent careers, can help us appreciate why and how women succeed in the field of computer science, which in turn can help to inform both women interested in computer science majors and/or careers and those interested in helping them achieve these goals.
- Education - Seattle