Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Retention of Women in Computer Science Majors

Class

Article

College

Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services

Faculty Mentor

Jody Clarke-Midura

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Abstract

Women have been historically underrepresented in Computer Science (CS) as a field. In CS majors across the nation, only about 18% of students graduating with a CS degree are women. In Utah, this number is even smaller. Previous research studies highlighted a variety of individual (e.g. lack of prior programming knowledge), institutional (e.g. the field is described as overly masculine, asocial and unwelcoming) and external factors (e.g. lack of parental support) as some of the factors influencing their decision to drop out of CS as their major. However, the majority of existing studies focus on the problem of retention from the perspective of women who decide to drop the major. This study examines retention from the perspective of women who persist in the major and is using Wenger’s Communities of Practice as a theoretical framework. The study is qualitative in nature and it relies on focus groups, interviews, journey maps, and experience sampling methods as data sources. The results reveal factors that influenced women to persist in their CS majors, such as resources available to them inside and outside the major, and the types of support they received along the way. Some of the most prominent examples are the availability of a tutor lab or the opportunity to work inside their field parallelly to attending school. In addition, the study reveals different communities participants belonged to as they progressed through the major, trajectories they followed for the duration of their CS majors, and the importance of mind-body-spirit balance.

Location

The North Atrium

Start Date

4-12-2018 9:00 AM

End Date

4-12-2018 10:15 AM

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Apr 12th, 9:00 AM Apr 12th, 10:15 AM

Retention of Women in Computer Science Majors

The North Atrium

Women have been historically underrepresented in Computer Science (CS) as a field. In CS majors across the nation, only about 18% of students graduating with a CS degree are women. In Utah, this number is even smaller. Previous research studies highlighted a variety of individual (e.g. lack of prior programming knowledge), institutional (e.g. the field is described as overly masculine, asocial and unwelcoming) and external factors (e.g. lack of parental support) as some of the factors influencing their decision to drop out of CS as their major. However, the majority of existing studies focus on the problem of retention from the perspective of women who decide to drop the major. This study examines retention from the perspective of women who persist in the major and is using Wenger’s Communities of Practice as a theoretical framework. The study is qualitative in nature and it relies on focus groups, interviews, journey maps, and experience sampling methods as data sources. The results reveal factors that influenced women to persist in their CS majors, such as resources available to them inside and outside the major, and the types of support they received along the way. Some of the most prominent examples are the availability of a tutor lab or the opportunity to work inside their field parallelly to attending school. In addition, the study reveals different communities participants belonged to as they progressed through the major, trajectories they followed for the duration of their CS majors, and the importance of mind-body-spirit balance.