Survey Feedback Interventions in IT Workplaces

Survey Feedback Interventions in IT Workplaces

Debra A. Major (Old Dominion University, USA) and Lisa M. Germano (Old Dominion University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch179
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Abstract

Several factors may explain the underrepresentation of women in IT. One reason is the portrayal of the IT workplace as hostile, or at least inhospitable, to women. Long work hours, a frenetic pace, and few family-friendly benefits are believed to characterize many IT work environments (Howard, 1995; Lambeth, 1996; Panteli, Stack, & Ramsay, 1999). Another reason is the perception that IT careers afford little social interaction or support (Misic & Graf, 1999). The stereotype of the IT worker as a “geek” who works in isolation from others may be less appealing to women than men (Spender, 1997). Moreover, white males are most frequently portrayed as IT professionals in the media, are most likely to have role models and support systems, and work in work environments that reflect their values and learning styles (Balcita, Carver, & Soffa, 2002). Subtle biases in stereotyping and language use and working in a white male culture may contribute to feelings of exclusion for women. Finally, male IT supervisors may be less likely to develop supportive relationships with women than men (Ragins, 2002), thereby reducing their bond to the organization and leading to their eventual dissatisfaction and departure from IT work and the organizations that employ them (Lee, 2004). Our research examines how characteristics of the IT workplace can foster inclusion and equal opportunity for IT employees (see Major, Davis, Sanchez-Hucles, Germano, & Mann, 2006). We are particularly interested in identifying barriers and enablers to the career success of women and minorities in IT departments. During Phase 1 of this three-year project, IT departments completed a Web-based survey designed to understand the factors that shape the access that IT employees have to opportunities in the workplace. During Phase 2 of the project, we provided the IT departments with feedback from our survey, conducted focus groups and structured supervisor interviews, and worked with the organizations to identify and implement changes designed to increase opportunity and inclusion for IT employees. During Phase 3 of this project, we administered another survey to assess the effectiveness of the interventions implemented during Phase 2. The remainder of this chapter describes our sample, survey measures, and research methodology.

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