Factors Influencing Career Choice for Women in the Global Information Technology Workforce

Factors Influencing Career Choice for Women in the Global Information Technology Workforce

Eileen M. Trauth (The Pennsylvania State University, USA), Jeria L. Quesenberry (Carnegie Mellon University, USA) and Haiyan Huang (Purdue University Calumet, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-920-5.ch002
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Abstract

The increased cultural diversity emanating from the globalization of the IT sector presents challenges for gender research in the IT field. In an effort to address these challenges, this chapter presents an analysis of cultural factors influencing the career choices of women in the IT workforce. A review of the literature on cultural factors suggests the need for both greater analysis of cultural influences on women in the IT workforce and more nuanced theorizing about gender and IT. Hence, the authors employ the individual differences theory of gender and IT as a theoretical lens for examining, in greater detail, the variation in ways that perceptions of women’s roles are embedded in a culture. The chapter then documents the influence of these perceptions on female IT career choices. Finally, the authors show how socio-cultural factors moderate these influences. The data employed in this chapter draws from a qualitative data set of interviews with 200 women from four separate studies of women in the IT workforces in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States. The themes that emerged from this analysis speak to the influence of cultural attitudes about maternity, childcare, parental care and working outside the home on a woman’s choice of an IT career. The authors also saw evidence that other socio-cultural factors add further variation to gendered cultural influences: gendered career norms, social class, economic opportunity, and gender stereotypes about aptitude. These results lend empirical support to the emergent individual differences theory of gender and IT that theorizes within-gender variation with respect to issues related to gender and IT. They also point to areas where educational and workplace interventions can be enacted to address the under representation of women in the IT field.

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